Palin book goes after McCain camp

Sarah Palin's new memoir describes heart-wrenching anguish over her teen daughter's pregnancy playing out before a national audience, but the 413-page tome doesn't contain a single reference to her grandson's father, soon-to-be Playgirl model Levi Johnston.
Sarah Palin, pictured in Hong Kong in September, blasts staffers from Senator John McCain's camp and news anchor Katie Couric in her upcoming memoir. ((Jeff Topping/CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets/Associated Press))
Former U.S. vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin's new memoir describes heart-wrenching anguish over her teen daughter's pregnancy playing out before a national audience, but doesn't contain a single reference to her grandson's father, Levi Johnston.

In the 413-page Going Rogue, which will be released Tuesday, Palin stays away from Johnston, but she digs in when it comes to those who ran Senator John McCain's campaign for the presidency. 

She confirms there was substantial tension between her advisers and McCain's. She bitterly details how she was prevented from delivering a concession speech on election night, how she had been kept "bottled up" from reporters during the campaign and prevented in many ways from just being herself. She also contends she was prepped to give non-answers during her vice-presidential debate with Joe Biden.

The book, a first printing of 1.5 million copies, has been at or near the top of Amazon.com and other bestseller lists for weeks, ever since publisher HarperCollins announced it had been completed ahead of schedule and moved its release date up from next spring. The Associated Press was able to purchase a copy Thursday.

Criticism of McCain staffers, Couric

While the book follows her life from her birth in Sandpoint, Idaho, to wondering about the next stop in her future, Palin, who received an advance of at least $1.25 million US, saves her strongest words for run-ins with McCain staffers and her widely panned interview with CBS anchor Katie Couric.

She describes Couric as condescending, biased and "badgering." She contends the anchor chose "gotcha" moments while leaving the candidate's more substantive remarks on the cutting-room floor. 

The closest Palin comes to naming names occurs in the passages about chief McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt. Quoting another campaign official, she writes that Schmidt felt she wasn't prepared enough on policy matters and even wondered if she was suffering from postpartum depression following the April 2008 birth of her son Trig, who has Down syndrome.

She says Schmidt was also upset if anyone in her personal circle tried to correct — without approval from the McCain camp — what they perceived to be wrong portrayals of Palin's record as Alaska governor.

Palin comes across as particularly upset about being stuck with $50,000 US in legal bills that she says were directly related to the legal vetting process for the VP slot. Trevor Potter, the McCain campaign's general counsel, told The Associated Press the campaign never asked Palin to pay a legal bill.

"To my knowledge, the campaign never billed Gov. Palin for any legal expenses related to her vetting and I am not aware of her ever asking the campaign to pay legal expenses that her own lawyers incurred for the vetting process," Potter said.

If Palin's lawyer billed her for work related to her vetting, the McCain campaign never knew about it, Potter said.

Folksy portrayal

Written with Lynn Vincent, Going Rogue is folksy in tone and homespun. She writes in awe about how the McCain campaign had hired a New York stylist who had also worked with Couric.

Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol, and then boyfriend Levi Johnston are seen in September 2008 at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. ((Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press))
Taken aback by the fussing, she wondered who was paying for the $150,000 US worth of clothes the campaign gave to her and her family. Palin did not like the forced makeover, and said she wondered at the time if she and her clan came across as "that" unpresentable.

Family members were told the costs were being handled, or were "part of the convention." The designer clothing, hairstyling and accessories later grew into a controversy.

Palin shares behind-the-scene moments when the nation learned her daughter Bristol was pregnant, how she rewrote the statement prepared for her by the McCain campaign — only to watch in horror as a TV news anchor read the original McCain camp statement, which, in Palin's view, glamourized and endorsed her daughter's situation.

Interviews with Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters will be televised next week to coincide with the book's release.

Palin's book tour also begins next week, in Grand Rapids, Mich., and will skip major cities in favour of smaller localities.

In limited excerpts of the prerecorded Winfrey interview, Palin says Johnston is still part of the family. Johnston was quoted as saying that any attempts at reconciliation are fake.