McCain Revamps Palin's Debate Prep Team

Apparently, word reached the McCain campaign that Gov. Sarah Palin isn't making a good impression on the national stage. With only three days to go to her debate with Sen. Joe Biden, some major changes have been made.

More broadly, the McCain campaign aims to halt what it sees as a perceived decline in the crispness and precision of Gov. Palin's latest remarks as well as a fall in recent polls, according to several advisers and party officials.

First, she'll be leaving today for McCain's AZ ranch to prep. Second, at her husband's urging, since he believes part of her problem may be that she misses her family and her Alaska staffers, the family and a top aide will be flown to the ranch as well. Third, she will now be prepped by McCain campaign manager Rick Davis and senior adviser Steve Schmidt, as well as McCain's debate coach, Brett O'Donnell. [More...]

As it that's not enough:

The McCain campaign has put in place several other well-regarded advisers to Gov. Palin, including head of vice-presidential operations Michael Glassner, who has worked for former Sen. Bob Dole, and Mr. Eskew, who worked for President George W. Bush's campaign and administration.

The campaign and advisers attribute Palin's recent interview glitches to her being over-prepared with McCain talking points and not sufficiently prepped to let the real Sarah come through.

Meanwhile, the more experienced advisers assigned to her by the McCain campaign are accustomed to working with seasoned candidates, not someone "completely green on the national stage," one strategist said...." It's time to let Palin be Palin -- and let it all hang out," said Scott Reed, a Republican strategist.

In other words, the McCain team wants Palin to set out the McCain talking points but put them in her own words.

The campaign is sending in Sen. McCain's debate coach, Brett O'Donnell, to help with her preparation, advisers said. Though he always was expected to help out after Sen. McCain's debate Friday in Oxford, Miss., Mr. O'Donnell now needs to "undo" much of her previous debate prep, which has resulted in occasional "rote" responses, one adviser said.

....We've got four days," another adviser said Sunday. "People love Sarah Palin and she's got a unique personality and presence we need to bring out -- not shut down." Aides will work with her this week to be certain her responses use "her words," this adviser said.

Politico reports that two more Couric-Palin segments may air before the debate.

The McCain campaign is doing everything possible to lower expectations for Palin.

My translation of all this: At the debate, expect Palin to use her own jargon, peppered with colloquial sayings and plenty of dropped "g's" in attacks on Obama and Biden as being "too liberal." That's what went over big at the Republican Convention, and that's the "Sarah" they want people to rally to. In other words, take the focus off her lack of understanding of the issues behind the McCain talking points or her lack of preparedness to lead the country should the need arise.

Will it work with anyone besides the base? Does being "spunky" qualify one to be Vice-President?

I hope that as people look and listen to Sarah Palin Thursday, they ask themselves, "Will I feel secure with this person being second in command of my country or, in the event something happens to even temporarily displace McCain, the leader of the free world?

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  • Display: Sort:
    The big mistake McCain made (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by ChrisO on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 03:58:43 PM EST
    was trying to pretend she has foreign policy experience. I think if her first response had been "of course I don't have much foreign policy experience. Most Governors don't. But I have experience as chief executive of a state that none of the other candidates can match." I think the public would have bought it and it would have stopped a lot of the gotcha questions that make her look so uninformed.

    And don't get me wrong, the worse she looks the better, as far as I'm concerned.

    They would need 3 months (none / 0) (#1)
    by MoveThatBus on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 01:31:35 PM EST
    rather than 3 days to get Palin to be able to answer any debate questions with the caliber of responses Biden is going to give.

    Two weeks ago the viewer numbers would have been significant, but I can't imagine this debate will draw much of a crowd unless it is going to be covered on every single channel. Palin is old news.

    More directly. . . (none / 0) (#2)
    by LarryInNYC on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 01:32:21 PM EST
    I hope that as people look and listen to Sarah Palin Thursday, they ask themselves, "Will I feel secure with this person being second in command of my country or, in the event something happens to even temporarily displace McCain, the leader of the free world?

    Do you feel secure having someone in office on January 20th who's going to be hiring people like Palin for important jobs like Secretary of State?  Or FEMA director?

    Certainly not Attorney General (none / 0) (#5)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 01:38:57 PM EST
    But Thursday's debate is about Palin. There are plenty of other reasons not to want McCain in office. I'm keeping my focus on her for the debate.

    My subtle but effective argument. . . (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by LarryInNYC on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 01:50:07 PM EST
    (intended to bridge the difference of opinion between you and BTD) is that the most important and direct lesson we learn from Palin is about McCain's hiring practices.  That tars McCain directly with Palin's incompetence.

    For instance, ask an undecided voterd "Would you want Sara Palin as the head of FEMA?  If he chose her for VP, what makes you think he'd choose someone better for FEMA (Attorney General, SEC head, etc)"


    Dalton, you haven't heard my accent. (none / 0) (#4)
    by Teresa on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 01:37:33 PM EST
    Trust me, I put Sarah to shame on those dropping g's. And my I's are awful. I don't know why I never got away from my really strong East Tn accent. My husband's family from Nashville even teases me about it.

    Aren't you from Alabama? I like her accent. If she'd change those I's, she'd sound normal to me.

    It's because her voice is too "female". (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Teresa on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 02:17:57 PM EST
    My boss used to tell me I needed a "work voice" in addition to my own. I got by just fine with my little kid sounding southern accent. I earned the respect of those that worked for me by my actions, not my voice.

    Her accent isn't any worse than Kennedy's or Carter's. Tapes I've seen of JFK make his accent so strong it's hard for me to understand some of what he says.


    I think it's that she sounds too perky (none / 0) (#18)
    by Lil on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 04:33:57 PM EST
    more than the accent. Even though this is based on a stereotype, perky makes her sound not smart. I wince as I say this, because I know there is no correlation in reality.

    Let Sarah be Sarah! n/t (none / 0) (#6)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 01:49:41 PM EST

    Again with the accent. (none / 0) (#8)
    by Cream City on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 01:56:09 PM EST
    You want votes from the Pacific Northwest, dontcha?  So many here cling to their own accents and sound so, well, bitter about the way that a lot of the country talks. . . .

    Again with the concern trolling. (5.00 / 0) (#9)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 02:12:06 PM EST
    People east of the Cascades may talk like that, but on the whole, they are not going to vote for Obama to begin with.  People in Western Washington and Oregon will--and they don't talk like SP.  

    At least you didn't try to tie it into something Chicago related this time.  


    Free Sarah? (none / 0) (#12)
    by MTSINAIMAMA on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 02:38:16 PM EST
    Then who was the Sarah who showed up for Katie Couric?

    her husband believes part of her problem (none / 0) (#13)
    by Finis Terrae on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 02:55:42 PM EST
    may be that she misses her family and her Alaska staffers?

    Is this for real?

    Her problem is that she does not know anything (none / 0) (#14)
    by fuzzyone on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 03:13:12 PM EST
    about well, much of anything relevant to national political debate.  Or at least nothing she was able to share with Katie.  I don't think they can solve that between now and the debates even if they bring in Henry Higgins.

    Two words: (none / 0) (#15)
    by Doc Rock on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 03:13:45 PM EST
    Jerry Lewis!

    I think Palin needs ... (none / 0) (#16)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 03:30:34 PM EST
    less prep, not more.

    Like most politicians, she's best when she's just herself.  And most of the criticism of her was for her "canned answers" which comes from being over-prepped.

    I've seen some of her Alaska debates and she was good.

    Of course, this news could just be something leaked by the McCain camp to lower expectations.

    And sending her to the ranch could be just another way to keep her away from reporters.

    Mccains' failed plot (none / 0) (#19)
    by caesar on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 07:02:12 PM EST
    Mccain should have never "suspended" his campaign, and turned this into a political grand standing sideshow, which made this look staged in the end. He pulled Barack Obama into it, and this made everything worse. It became political during an election process, at our expense.
    Mccain's decision to do this shows his inability to lead. Mccain is gambling with the lives of American voters.

    Palin's make-over (none / 0) (#20)
    by caesar on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 07:09:48 PM EST
    If John Mccain thinks he can use a new linguistic term ("make-over") and think that it's going to somehow make her smarter, then I think Americans should keep encouraging her and Mccain to stick with her, and make her feel like she ISN'T going to quit... just to egg her on into a trap of gut-wrenching hilarity for all of us to watch in an unscripted SNL skit in the VP debates.