Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Palin Heads To 'Debate Camp' In Arizona

From CNN’s Dana Bash and Rebecca Sinderbrand

Palin is preparing for the debate.

(CNN) — As some prominent conservatives begin to raise the question of whether Sarah Palin should remain on the Republican presidential ticket – and others call for her to be given more public exposure in a bid to reverse falling poll numbers – the McCain campaign is bringing the Alaska governor to John McCain’s Sedona ranch for several days of intense debate prep.

Senior campaign advisor Steve Schmidt and other top officials met Palin in Philadelphia Sunday night, and are traveling with her and McCain to a Columbus, Ohio event Monday morning. The group then heads to Arizona.

The original plan was for Palin to prepare in St. Louis, where the vice presidential debate will be held Thursday. Instead, she has already been preparing in a Philadelphia hotel for four days with advisors. She will now get ready for the debate at McCain’s rustic creek-side home — what a top aide calls "debate camp."

The aide, who's part of the team prepping Palin, tells CNN they decided to take her to debate camp there because it is an "invigorating and enjoyable place to prepare for Thursday."

"SP [Sarah Palin] loves it, and has her kids and Todd coming," wrote the aide in an e-mail, and that "John McCain himself came up with the idea.”

Late last week, in the wake of a widely-panned interview with Katie Couric of CBS News, some prominent conservatives who had supported Palin’s vice presidential bid, including National Review columnist Kathleen Parker, suggested she step down before the election.

Over the past few days, a counter-chorus has emerged, as supporters urge the campaign not to keep the VP nominee so isolated from the media and unfiltered audience interaction — to “let Palin be Palin.”

“Holding Sarah Palin to just three interviews and microscopically focusing on each interview I think has been a mistake,” former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romny told MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Monday. “I think they'd be a lot wiser to let Sarah Palin be Sarah Palin. Let her talk to the media, let her talk to people."

But one adviser involved in preparing Palin for her faceoff with Biden insists this narrative — that they're “squeezing charm out of her” — misses the point.

“It’s really hard,” said this advisor, who said Palin is still trying to get up to speed on foreign policy issues she has never faced before, from North Korea to other hot spots around the globe.

On Monday’s MSNBC interview, Romney defended Palin’s relatively thin knowledge on national security. "Look she wasn't selected by John McCain because she's an expert on foreign policy; John McCain's the expert on foreign policy. She was selected because she's a maverick. She's a person who identified with people in homes across America,” he said. “She's an executive and a governor, and that brings a lot to John McCain's ticket.
Amid the heavy scrutiny in a close campaign, Gov. Palin is under considerable pressure to make Thursday's debate a "game changer," advisers said.

Palin gave McCain a major boost in fundraising and poll standings after her selection several weeks ago. But following shaky performances in some recent interviews, and a continued reluctance by the campaign to allow her to appear in unscripted situations, her approval ratings have dropped significantly.

Source: AP.Org - CNN

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