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McCain Camp's Defense of $150K Shopping Spree Begs More Questions

Has the McCain campaign really come clean on the Sarah Palin wardrobe fiasco?

After getting hammered for five days since the story broke about the GOP vice presidential nominee's extreme Extreme Makeover, John McCain said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that Palin has already returned a third of the designer clothes bought for her by the Republican National Committee.

Sarah Palin
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at a rally in Tampa, Fla, Oct. 26, 2008. (AP Photo/St. Petersburg Times, John Pendygraft)

Palin spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt echoed that a third of the $150,000 loot "was returned post-convention," that "many of the remaining clothes have never been worn" and that Gov. Palin still "wears a lot of her own clothes from Alaska."

Schmitt explained in a subsequent email to the Sleuth that "whatever clothes that could be returned were returned (approximately a third of them)."

As for the remaining $100,000 worth of clothing, makeup and accessories -- minus the clothes that were bought for baby Trig -- Schmitt said Palin has worn some of them "along with her wardrobe from Wasilla and the rest have stayed on the plane." (Photo-op alert! What daring photographer will be first to snag that photo?)

The campaign's explanation raises more questions than answers. We expected Palin couldn't possibly wear all of the clothes that were bought for her between now and Election Day. Nor did we expect that all of the clothes selected by a secret shopper would fit her. Naturally, some would be sent back to Neiman Marcus, Saks, Barneys and the other stores where they came from.

But why didn't the campaign say so sooner? Schmitt didn't answer that question. And she declined to specify which items of clothing were sent back and to which luxury retailers. "I don't have further specifics on returns other than everything that could be returned was," she said.

Palin, on the stump Sunday in Florida, said, "This whole thing with the wardrobe, I try to just ignore it because it's so ridiculous."

She added the clothes are not her property, and -- whatever happens on Nov. 4 -- she won't continue wearing them. "I'm not taking them with me. I'm back to wearing my old clothes from my favorite consignment shop in Anchorage, Alaska." (Palin told Fox News her favorite consignment store is Out of the Closet in Anchorage.)

According to this CNN account, Palin wasn't supposed to bring up shopping-gate. CNN quotes a senior adviser to the McCain campaign saying Palin's comments about her clothes and her $35 wedding ring "were not the remarks we sent to her plane this morning."

And in another sign the GOP campaign is in meltdown mode, CNN quotes another anonymous McCain adviser criticizing Palin this way:

"She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone," this McCain adviser said. "She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.

"Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: Divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom."

Ouch.

But back to Palin's remaining new threads, which the McCain campaign says will go to charity: Even if Palin isn't keeping the clothes, we bet Jeff Larson, the GOP political operative whose credit card was used to pay for the infamous $150,000 shopping spree, is keeping all the sky miles he earned.


By Mary Ann Akers  |  October 27, 2008; 12:46 PM ET
 
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Comments

Global poverty is such a huge issue and is inclining. It would be great if both candidates really focused on this issue along with the other huge issues.
According to The Borgen Project:
$30 billion: Annual shortfall to end world hunger.
$540 billion: Annual U.S. Defense Budget.

Posted by: veronica5 | October 27, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Any truth to the report that the clothing purchases went beyond the exterior outfits, including the lacy underpinnings and spanx? or is that just rumor?

Posted by: Rivery | October 27, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Yeah sure Sarah, it's all so riduculous. People making a big deal about a 150 grand spent on expensive clothes for you and your family. I mean they're treating you as if you were a barbie doll. And you were gonna give them to charity anyway. And now they're all gone and your gonna start wering your hunting clothes and parka to the rally's.
Right Sarah, we beleive you.
And we beleive John too.
How's your daughters shotgun wedding going, by the way?

Posted by: tommyd60 | October 27, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Is this the Alaskan Way? I think the clothes will be treated the same way as senator Steven`s furniture. Do those people really think that if they say :`Iwill not accept the gift` it is then OK to keep using it?

Posted by: Soyojensen | October 27, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

It's simply because both she and McCain suffer from Maverick Personality Disorder:
http://headofstate.blogspot.com/2008/10/maverick-personality-disorder.html

Posted by: janawalter87 | October 27, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Please STOP "Beg the question" ABUSE!

From Wikipedia:

In contemporary usage, "begging the question" often refers to an argument where the premises are as questionable as the conclusion.

In popular usage, "begging the question" is often used to mean that a statement invites another obvious question. This usage is disparaged. "Raises the question" may be appropriate.
-------

Sarah "begs the question" all the time, using a false premise to make a spurious argument against Obama's candidacy. Her wardrobe problems do RAISE more questions, but this is all trivia.

The "diva" not-for-attribution remark coming out of the McCain apparatus is certainly a sign of the trouble that campaign is in.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | October 27, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Yes, and what about the $30,000++ spent in TWO WEEKS for Ms. Moose's hair and makeup? Is she going to return the empty containers of blusher (much overused) so they can be sold for charity? And with $10k++ spent on her hair in two weeks, why doesn't it look better? (Oh, wait, she uses the same team of hairdressers as Cindy "the Helmet" McCain...)

The clothes are just part of it. Yes, of course there are more important issues (she's on the wrong side of most of them), but how can she claim to be Jes' Ordinary Folks and spend this kind of money on hair and makeup? Hypocrisy matters, too.

Posted by: aprill1 | October 27, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Simple... and possibly silly... bookkeeping question:
If a third of the clothes were returned right away, where was the credit for them applied?
... or does this mean the initial amount was actually closer to $220,000?

Just curious.

Posted by: Diana14 | October 27, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Whilst McCain and his crew are playing expensive dressing up games with their brainless Barbie doll, could you please tell me how "Joanna Six Kid" (and one on the way) is dealing with all of this? "Joe Six Pack" is more interested in his beer and how the economy will not be able to fuel his alcoholic habit, so he will no longer be able to impress the cute little bar maid down the road and "Joe the Plumber" is ever hopeful that the taxman will not arrive at his door and demand payment for his long overdue taxes and arrest him for fraudulently practicing without a license. "Joanna Six Kids" has a problem though her ailing mother looks after the kids whilst she works nights and she cannot afford to get them medical attention when they are ill. She will also loose her job when the next baby arrives and who is going to support them financially then? Neither of the two Joe's are much interested in this they just want to have their beer and drink it! "Joanna Six Kids" is the next welfare statistic to an ever-growing one in the Republican run America. Food stamps will not suffice and Joanna's kids will be taken from her because she has no means of keeping them safe and well feed. At least the Democratic Party have provisions for people like Joanna. They will safeguard her family in every way thus allowing her not be put out on the streets to loose her kids to Social Welfare and left to live a hand to mouth existence. Joanna was only sixteen when her adult life was forced on her, she missed out on sex education and any other meaningful useful education as well, and her parents scared the hell out of her about contraception. Joanna just did not have the opportunity you see to even try and remove herself from this rut she had to spend three or four mornings a week away from school looking after her nine other siblings so her mother could get to her jobs cleaning other peoples houses and bringing home a pittance to keep her family feed and the rent paid. (Perhaps all the Joe’s would think twice before impregnating a female if they were taxed on uninhibited sex and not supporting their families.) Sarah Palin’s clothing and cosmetic budget would have supported a few dozen mothers like Joanna. Want to bet that the chosen charity for donation of these clothes is called the Palin Family Trust?

Posted by: Argylle | October 27, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Please inform me which charity she is donating to. I am her size and I would like to buy those clothes.

Posted by: toofargone | October 27, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

I was disappointed to see that outoftheclosetalaska.com isn't the same organization as Southern California AIDS charity/Thrift Store outofthecloset.org.

The idea of the new standard bearer for the american taleban contributing to an AIDS charity was just too precious.

Posted by: awb3 | October 27, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

So you wore the clothes to your big event and now you'd like to return them?
Maybe it's the small businessman in me talking here but, Sax doesn't rent clothes. If you buy them and wear them, they are yours. If you subsequently return them because you're embarrassed at their cost, you're abusing the stores return policy.
I think donating them to charity is fine, but then again your campaign contributors might object. Those are largely Republicans who would probably view that as "socialism", since it helps poor people.
What a wicked web we weave...

Posted by: dijetlo | October 27, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

tommyd60: Like mother, like daughter?
Diana14: Really good question.
I would like to know, if 1/3 were returned, and many haven't been worn. Why weren't they returned? Also, it would be interesting if anyone who donated to the republican campaign has demanded their money back because of this hypocracy. I would.

Posted by: BakedAlaska1 | October 27, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

to mikeinmidland:
i gotta say, i am wary of the "Beg the question" question, too. i have been railing against the misuse of this phrase for years (NB: it is a logical fallacy, claiming that an argument is circular). but one of the other problems is that "begging the question" is actually a dicey translation of the actual name of the rule: "petitio principi". alternate translations would likely arrive at something closer to "requesting the premise". so the whole thing started out on shaky ground, you know?

man, i feel so alone.

i have started to feel a little fatalistic about this one; we will probably never get it back. i dunno. i like fighting the good fight anyway.

http://www.squatcrouch.com/

Posted by: Squatty_HJ | October 27, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Dear Jeff Larson,
I am larger than Sarah Palin so I can't take her hand me downs but I would be happy with $1000 or even $500 worth of clothing.
Please tell me where to send the bill.

Thanks
A mom in Silver Spring

Posted by: silverspring25 | October 27, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

It would be interesting to find out how the Obama camp is spending their millions. I understand that the leather incliner seats on the Obama plane has president embroidered on the seat. Reports have that $80 to $100 million has been spent on TV ads during the first two weeks of October. Some say that Obama's tailored suits go for about $3K each.

Posted by: Verrazzano | October 27, 2008 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Addressing the controversy on the campaign trail in Florida Sunday, Palin told a crowd she's "back to wearing my own clothes from my favorite consignment shop in Anchorage, Alaska."

That shop is called "Out of the Closet" and its owner, Ellen Arvold, told Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen Monday that Palin's been wearing similar outfits on the stump to what she buys at the shop.

Palin "started shopping here while she was running for governor, so it's been about three years," Arvold said.

"She shops for herself mostly," Arvold continued, "but she often brings her daughters with her, and they will pick out some things for themselves. She likes jackets. She buys kind of classic, feminine, fitted jackets. She likes leather jackets. Her girls have bought jeans here and also some jackets and knit tops."

Prices in "Out of the Closet" vary widely, Arvold said, "from a knit top for $16 to a handbag for $800, but our prices are generally very reasonable. I would say a normal price for a jacket would be between $40 and $100."

DONT SEE THIS HEADLINE ON LIBERAL WASH POST

Posted by: blevins20061 | October 27, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, sure. She also stays at the swankiest hotels and charges her kids off to the state. Wait a minute, isn't that socialism?

Posted by: clgrafton24 | October 27, 2008 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Hmmmm, do you suppose they returned clothes AFTER she had worn them once or twice? That would explain why we're only now hearing of it, plus why they needed so many.

Does anyone think it'd be beneath the McCain campaign to be that dishonest? I sure don't.

Posted by: jhbyer | October 27, 2008 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Tommyd60, reportedly a wedding is being planned for next summer, which first surprised me, as I thought the idea was to marry before the little guy (reportedly ultrasound confirms it's a boy) was born out-of-wedlock, a big no-no in the Bible, right up there with onanism and gay sex.

My guess is they decided they didn't want poor Bristol "showing" in Sarah's family photo-ops, thereby inviting snickers instead of oohs and ahhs.

Posted by: jhbyer | October 27, 2008 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Palin is being unfairly blamed for her alleged shopping spree the way McCain people have been blaming her for not getting up to speed about government 101.If the 2008 presidebntial campaign leaves any lesson for historians to study for decades to come, it is the picking of their running mates by both candidates that show not only their judgment but character. On one hand, Mr. Obama, in defiance of conventional wisdom, chose not to pick Ms. Clinton just to win women and die-hard Hillary supporters' votes but for experience in Mr. Biden to supplement his own. On the other hand, Mr. McCain, in order to try anything to win, pickd Ms. Palin for winning women and hard-core conservative votes. God forbid that events did not turn otherwise, thus showing Mr. Obama, young as he relatively is, more politically sensitive, strategically balanced,and hence more qualified overall than Mr. McCain. The bad economy is only one extra factor working in Mr. Obama's favor, not the decisive factor. America will be much better place than if things had worked otherwise.

Posted by: gangzhou55 | October 27, 2008 9:10 PM | Report abuse

That is a load of RNC/GOp Elephant crappola

Posted by: AlexP1 | October 28, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Palin's Troopergate isnt just about an ex-brother in law, who's chief Trooper boss wouldnt have him fired. According to Palin's own Chief of Staff Randy Ruaro in Oct 6 2008 testimony before the Alaska Judiciary sub. and Senator Hollis French, it was about the budget. Monehan was concerned about the RAMPANT sexual assaults , especially in the rural Alaska areas. He wanted $10 million more for State Troopers to conduct investigations and arrests.

Monegan went before the Legislature, which infuriated Plain, Alaska's Governor. Then he was fired BEFORE his Wash DC Congress trip to get more VOCA funds. This fight for mostly women Alaskan constituents is shocking, because the female Alaskan Governor Palin should have more sense.The Anchorage Daily News has hyperlinks to these documents.

The question for Palin, as her Randy Ruaro chief of staff testimony stipulated, was why education for alcohol and drugs will keep a man from sexually assaulting a woman? Is that your idea of law enforcement? And you want her a heartbeat away from the presidency?

Posted by: theloneconsumer | October 28, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Politics is show biz packaging. Help me here, what's wrong about buying Palin some glad rags? Big deal. I think she should keep all the clothes as consolation prizes if nothing else. Let's move on .org.

Posted by: HankRearend | October 28, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Of course Sarah said the clothes are not hers. Do you think she wants to pay gift taxes on $150,000 (or if you believe her staff...$100k) of clothes? She wanted to make sure thatit was a public declaration. I'm sure she was advised by her attorney and that's why she went "off script" about fashion-gate.

Posted by: trisha4 | October 28, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

And, are we supposed to believe that some annonymous RNC representative selected that expensive scarf with the "Vote" and donkeys (the Democrat mascot) on them. Really, do they think we're THAT stupid.

Posted by: bmnystar | October 28, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

This clothes story has gone on for more than a week. Ridiculous. I cannot believe that major newspapers continue to print such drivel. Gov. Palin is right to "go off message" as the R party suggests. She did not buy the clothes; she did not request the clothes. When she undergoes such criticism, she has a right to explain. Why would any major newspaper continue this non-story?

Posted by: Kansas28 | October 28, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Firstly, Im not mad that they spent that much money on Palin and of course her family, etc. etc. I promise it helped many Americans to watch her without turning the T.V. sets to something more informing! One thing is clear she doesn't know her role as a V.P if elected, but boy "she sure looks beautiful!" Now thats my reaction to Palin and I am a straight bi-racial woman. I lost so much respect for Palin when she plainly didnt know the role she was to uphold if elected along with McCain, now honestly thats RIDICULOUS! But she looks so good being wrong! Where did she get that red BOMBER Leather Jacket, oooh I want one. That was the only thing I remember when I think about Palin. I'm so sorry if thats offensive, whats more offensive to our country-that beauty holds more weight than intelligence! How much money they spent isnt important, moreso "MY FRIENDS" how much TIME did they spend explaining her duties if elected as V.P?

Posted by: danjack0682 | October 28, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Democrats for John McCain and Sarah Palin in 2008

Posted by: hclark1 | October 29, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Kansas28 | October 28, 2008 2:05 PM

This clothes story has gone on for more than a week. Ridiculous. I cannot believe that major newspapers continue to print such drivel. Gov. Palin is right to "go off message" as the R party suggests. She did not buy the clothes; she did not request the clothes. When she undergoes such criticism, she has a right to explain. Why would any major newspaper continue this non-story?


Because people like you continue to read and comment on them.

Posted by: inkydinkydo32 | October 30, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

As retired veteran I'm not worried or concerned about clothes paid by a political party but I'm concerned about who may be the next Commander-in-Chief of our men and women in the military. Mr. Obama is not even qualified to lead a Cub Scout Boy's group and people are ready to give him a blank check with our military.
So if someone close to Mr. Obama ask him the following questions and get an answer please let me know!

Could you help me please find these things?
1. Occidental College records -- Not released
2. Columbia College records -- Not released
3. Columbia Thesis paper -- not available, locked down by faculty
4. Harvard College records -- Not released, locked down by faculty
5. Selective Service Registration -- Not released
6. Medical records -- Not released
7. Illinois State Senate schedule -- 'not available'
8. Law practice client list -- Not released
9. Certified Copy of original Birth certificate - - Not released
10. Embossed, signed paper Certification of Live Birth -- Not released
11. Harvard Law Review articles published -- None
12. University of Chicago scholarly articles -- None
13. Your Record of baptism-- Not released or 'not available'
14. Your Illinois State Senate records--'not available'

Posted by: retiredveteran1 | November 1, 2008 12:58 AM | Report abuse

As retired veteran I'm not worried or concerned about clothes paid by a political party but I'm concerned about who may be the next Commander-in-Chief of our men and women in the military. Mr. Obama is not even qualified to lead a Cub Scout Boy's group and people are ready to give him a blank check with our military.
So if someone close to Mr. Obama ask him the following questions and get an answer please let me know!

Could you help me please find these things?
1. Occidental College records -- Not released
2. Columbia College records -- Not released
3. Columbia Thesis paper -- not available, locked down by faculty
4. Harvard College records -- Not released, locked down by faculty
5. Selective Service Registration -- Not released
6. Medical records -- Not released
7. Illinois State Senate schedule -- 'not available'
8. Law practice client list -- Not released
9. Certified Copy of original Birth certificate - - Not released
10. Embossed, signed paper Certification of Live Birth -- Not released
11. Harvard Law Review articles published -- None
12. University of Chicago scholarly articles -- None
13. Your Record of baptism-- Not released or 'not available'
14. Your Illinois State Senate records--'not available'

Posted by: retiredveteran1 | November 1, 2008 1:00 AM | Report abuse

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