Rich Lowry says "a former McCain aide" has denied a Newsweek story alleging that Sarah Palin went rogue and accused Barack Obama of "palling around" with William Ayers without the approval of the McCain campaign.
According to Newsweek's embedded election story:
There was grumbling that Palin had jumped the gun by bringing up Ayers at her rallies before the campaign could properly do the groundwork with a rollout strategy and ads. (At one rally, she had talked about Obama "palling around with terrorists.") Palin was mad at her handlers. Reportedly, she felt that Wallace and Schmidt had poorly coached and advised her. One adviser later speculated that she impulsively talked about Ayers because she felt thwarted—she had really wanted to bring up the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. (Actually, Palin was feeling hurt and angry over the tabloid treatment of her 17-year-old daughter Bristol, and decided—on her own—that Ayers should be fair game. McCain's advisers were working on a strategy that would launch an Ayers attack the following week, but McCain had not signed off on it, and Salter was resisting.)
However, this story was debunked immediately by Randy Scheunemann, McCain's chief foreign policy adviser, who emailed Marc Ambinder after he first reported the palling-around line had not been vetted by HQ.
The question is, why exactly is someone in McCain's campaign falsely accusing Palin of being the one to bring William Ayers up?
On the surface, bringing up Ayers doesn't really hurt Palin with the base, who had been screaming at McCain to get tougher and raise Obama's associations.
What it does, however, is protect McCain, who had been compared, unfairly, by John Lewis to George Wallace.
These litany of lies being anonymously leaked to the media are designed not only to damage Sarah Palin, but to restore McCain's reputation. These smears are not random, but are fully part of the McCain campaign's exit strategy -- blame Palin for the loss and restore Senator Maverick in good favour with the MSM and his Democratic friends, such as Lewis.
Back to that Newsweek story, here's an account of what happened when McCain discovered the Lewis remarks:
McCain was on his bus, about to board a plane in Moline, Ill., when he read the remarks on an aide's BlackBerry. He was so dumbfounded that he held the plane on the tarmac while he considered how to respond. Salter, who had penned the chapter on Lewis, urged McCain to remain more dignified than Lewis had been in his remarks. But Schmidt called in from headquarters brimming with outrage. "Sir," said Schmidt, "he called you a racist. It must be responded to." Nicolle Wallace agreed. Salter was not so sure. He was "very pained" over the incident, Schmidt later recalled about Salter, but his instinct told him not to get his boss into a name-calling fight with a martyr of the civil-rights movement. McCain decided to go with Schmidt and put out a strong statement calling on Obama to "immediately and personally repudiate these outrageous and divisive comments." (Obama left it to a spokesman to blandly state, "Senator Obama does not believe that John McCain or his policy criticism is in any way comparable to George Wallace or his segregationist policies.")
According to several aides, McCain had trouble shaking his sadness over Lewis's statement. To the reporters traveling with McCain, the candidate seemed uncertain, as if he was not quite sure what he had gotten himself into
That was fundamentally McCain's problem and why he was a terrible candidate. Someone unfairly compares him to a racist and McCain and his long-time aide Salter's reaction is to feel sad about it. Normal people would be outraged.