Two top aides with the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain have denied the anonymous accusations circulating in the press about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican candidate's vice-presidential pick.
"The towel story categorically is not true," Steve Schmidt, top former McCain campaign aide, told The Washington Times in the course of telephone and e-mail exchanges Friday evening.
Newsweek had reported that at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., Mrs. Palin had greeted Mr. Schmidt and Mark Salter, a fellow top campaign staffer, in her hotel room while "wearing nothing but a towel, with another [towel] on her wet hair."
Charlie Black, another top former campaign adviser and close friend of Mr. McCain's, said that with the exception of the gist of reports about Mrs. Palin having bought thousands of dollars worth of expensive clothes, the postelection spate of stories citing the McCain team as angry and frustrated with Mrs. Palin for being an ignorant spendthrift prima donna were all "a lot of ridiculous" falsehoods.
"McCain and his senior staff were happy with her performance and deny rumors to the contrary. McCain and we have great affection for her," he told The Times on Friday night.
Rather than the McCain campaign, Mr. Black said, "the Republican National Committee went out and bought her clothes and some of those are going to be returned."
Mr. Schmidt also expressed shock, using an expletive, when told that some of the anonymous accusations against Mrs. Palin in the press were being attributed to him.
Mr. Black and Mr. Schmidt each said he didn't know who in the McCain campaign team was spreading false stories about Mrs. Palin.
On such story had her directing low-level campaign aides to charge on their own credit cards clothes for her, for her husband, Todd, and their children.
Another tale had it that preparation for the vice-presidential debate revealed she hadn't known Africa is a continent rather than a country and that the North American Free Trade Agreement was among the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Mr. Black said the stories were being spread by liberals in the press eager to discredit the Republican candidate.
Chief political writer Ralph Z. Hallow served on the Chicago Tribune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Washington Times editorial boards, was Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Journalism at Northwestern University, resident at Columbia University Editorial-Page Editors Seminar and has filed from Berlin, Bonn, London, Paris, Geneva, Vienna, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Belgrade, Bucharest, Panama and Guatemala.
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