And the leaks continue. CBS has recently released a series of emails between Palin and McCain strategist Steve Schmidt that happened during the campaign. The date? Joe the Plumber minus three hours.
On October 15, Palin saw a CNN story with a subtitle "The Palins and the Fringe," that detailed her connections with the Alaskan Independence Party, a statewide political party that advocates for Alaskans to take a vote about whether they want to secede from the union. Todd Palin was a registered member of the party from 1995-2002. The Governor herself had delivered opening remarks via videotape to their convention in 2008.
Most Alaskans aren't too freaked out by the AIP. We even elected a governor, Walter Hickel, who defected from the Republican Party and ran as an AIP candidate in 1990. I don't know what percentage of Alaskans would vote for secession, but this isn't really the point. We Alaskans can take it. We're a tough breed. But how would a vice presidential candidate being married to a secessionist play in Peoria? Not well, probably. To the rest of the country... let's face it. Secession is fringy.
Palin didn't like seeing the "pallin' around with secessionists" piece on CNN, nor a comment that was shouted out by someone holding an unflattering sign in a crowd that day.
So, bearing all that in mind, here are the emails between VP Candidate Palin and Steve Schmidt, McCain's chief strategist, starting with one from Palin (and do go back and read the entire article HERE):
"Pls get in front of that ridiculous issue that's cropped up all day today - two reporters, a protestor's sign, and many shout-outs all claiming Todd's involvement in an anti-American political party," Palin wrote. "It's bull, and I don't want to have to keep reacting to it... Pls have statement given on this so it's put to bed."
Her reference to a single protestor's sign and "many shout-outs" was indicative of Palin's occasional tendency to take anecdotal evidence of a minor problem and extrapolate it into something far more menacing.... It was not a time for distractions, but the campaign was compelled to deal with the drama that seemed to follow Palin wherever she went.
Schmidt hit "reply to all" less than five minutes after Palin's e-mail was sent. "Ignore it," he wrote. "He was a member of the aip? My understanding is yes. That is part of their platform. Do not engage the protestors. If a reporter asks say it is ridiculous. Todd loves america."
This clear cut response from the campaign's top dog carried an air of finality, but it did not satisfy Palin. She responded with another e-mail, adding five more names to the "cc" box, all of whom traveled on her campaign plane.
"That's not part of their platform and he was only a 'member' bc independent alaskans too often check that 'Alaska Independent' box on voter registrations thinking it just means non partisan," Palin wrote. "He caught his error when changing our address and checked the right box. I still want it fixed."
OK...Just for the record, the box on the voter registration doesn't say "Independent" or "Alaska Independent" or "Independent Alaskan". It says "Alaskan Independence Party" and no Alaskan who was born and raised here, and has lived here all their life is going to confuse the Alaskan Independence Party with Non-Partisan. There is no remotely believable "Oops! Checked off the secessionist box by mistake!" scenario.
As this email story circulates throughout the state, there will be a lot of good chuckles over that "pants on fire" statement, believe you me. She might have thought she could fool the McCain campaign, but she's not fooling Alaskans.
Clearly irritated by what he saw as Palin's attempt to mislead her own campaign and apparently determined to demonstrate that the ultimate authority rested with him, Schmidt put the matter to rest once and for all with a longer response to everyone in the e-mail chain.
"Secession," he wrote. "It is their entire reason for existence. A cursory examination of the website shows that the party exists for the purpose of seceding from the union. That is the stated goal on the front page of the web site. Our records indicate that Tood was a member for seven years. If this is incorrect then we need to understand the discrepancy. The statement you are suggesting be released would be inaccurate. The inaccuracy would bring greater media attention to this matter and be a distraction. According to your staff there have been no media inquiries into this and you received no questions about it during your interviews. If you are asked about it you should smile and say many alaskans who love their country join the party because it speaks to a tradition of political independence. Todd loves his country.
We will not put out a statement and inflame this and create a situation where john has to address this."
In other words, "You're asking us to lie. And we won't."
Palin dropped the issue after that.
Just for fun, let's dredge up that old YouTube footage that came to light last September. This one has clips from Joe Vogler, founder of the Alaskan Independence Party, who is described on their website in this way.
The formation and history of the AIP largely revolve around Joe Vogler, a plain-spoken gold miner, non-practicing attorney and charismatic icon of local politics who ran unsuccessfully for governor three times between 1974 and 1986. The text on the video is one of several alleged stories about him.
And in between audio of Vogler, there is Sarah Palin's address to the annual convention of the political party that she herself describes in the email above as "anti-American."
And here's a nice quote from a meeting of the Alaskan Independence Party after Palin became governor, and before the nomination.
"Our current governor, we mentioned at the last conference, the one we were hoping would get elected, Sarah Palin, did get elected. There's a joke, she's a pretty good looking gal, there's a joke goes around we're the coldest state with the hottest governor. (laughter) And there was a lot of talk about her moving up. She was an AIP member before she got the job as a mayor of a small town -- that was a non-partisan job. But to get along and go along -- she eventually joined the Republican Party, where she had all kinds of problems with their ethics, and well, I won't go into that. She also had about an 80% approval rating, and is pretty well sympathetic to her former membership."
And while there is no evidence that Sarah Palin herself was ever a registered member of the party, Todd's affiliation is well-documented. You can read the rest of the very interesting transcript which discusses how AIP members need to become Republicans so they can become electable, and effectively infiltrate state government. Transcript and video are at the Mudflats archive site HERE. The article was originally posted on September 8.
Palin supporters are fond of citing things that Democratic leaders do and saying, "Can you imagine if Sarah Palin did that? They'd just rip her apart!" Well, just for fun, imagine if you will what they would say if Hawaii had a secessionist party, Michelle Obama had been a registered member of that party for seven years, and Barack Obama had delivered a message to their convention last year. Just sayin'.