The Washington Times - June 30, 2009, 03:31PM

Alaskan Governor and GOP 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin may be nice looking, but she sure wasn’t a very good candidate is the bottom line of Vanity Fair’s 9,920-word profile about her released Tuesday.

The comments about her beauty weren’t entirely complimentary, either. Vanity Fair writer Todd S. Purdum said her looks probably hurt her as much it helped win voters during the campaign.


The brunt of his article, the notion that she was never suited to run nationally, relied heavily on unattributed quotes from McCain campaign staffers who felt she wasn’t up to snuff and refused to properly study up on policy issues.

The Democratic National Committee quickly seized on the story and said it was the first “nondorsement of 2012.”

Three McCain staffers, however, were immediately willing to go on the record with the Washington Times in their support for Mrs. Palin after the Vanity Fair piece was published online.

Randy Scheunemann, director of foreign policy and national security for the McCain-Palin campaign and who played Joe Biden in Mrs. Palin’s debate prep, was happy to push back against the Vanity Fair piece, saying she was an impressive and capable candidate.

He recalled her performance in the vice-presidential debate where she “held her own and went toe-to-toe” against Mr. Biden, a candidate with much more experience in debates and decades of public service. She was “incredibly hard-working and concerned she’d do a good job for John McCain who was a national hero and plucked her from obscurity,” Mr. Scheunemann said. “That weighed on her every day.”

“It’s disheartening and dishonorable anyone that who worked for John McCain would participate in this kind of character assassination against his running mate,” Mr. Scheunemann said.

Jason Recher, who worked closely with Mrs. Palin as a vice presidential candidate, said “The mean tone of this article is completely false, this is not the Sarah Palin I knew and spent two and a half months with.”  He also said he was tired of reporters using information about Mrs. Palin from people unwilling to go on the record.

David Welch, deputy research director for the McCain-Palin ticket, said he was “shocked to read the Vanity Fair article about Governor Palin and the allegations made against her by former staffers” and complained “significant parts of the story are based on half truths and gossip from staffers who refused to go on the record.”

None of these men were approached by Vanity Fair to discuss their experience working with Mrs. Palin for Mr. Purdum’s piece.

About Mrs. Palin’s looks Mr. Purdum said “she is by far the best-looking woman ever to rise to such heights in national politics, the first indisputably fertile female to dare to dance with the big dogs.”

“This pheromonal reality has been a blessing and a curse,” he wrote. “It has captivated people who would never have given someone with Palin’s record a second glance if Palin had looked like Susan Boyle. And it has made others reluctant to give her a second chance because she looks like a beauty queen.”

Michelle Easton, president of the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute that promotes conservative women such as Mrs. Palin, said the governor’s looks are often discussed to play down the appeal she had to the GOP.

“It is only the Left that ever talks about the way Palin looks or dresses.” Mrs. Easton said. “Conservatives love Palin because she believes in small government and the preservation of traditional American values, but the Left has cleverly deflected debate about Palin’s stances on policy by constantly degrading her based on her physical appearance.”