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Tension between John McCain and Sarah Palin
Speaking about the Republican campaign at a rally in Pennsylvania he said "when two mavericks join up, we don't agree on everything, but that's a lot of fun".
The presidential candidate gave one of his now trademark awkward grins as he made the remark standing in front of her at a joint appearance.
The comments followed days of proxy war carried out by aides through the media.
Accusations between McCain advisers and those close to Sarah Palin, the vice-presidential nominee, have become very heated.
A senior McCain adviser was quoted as describing Mrs Palin as "a whack job". Others called her a "diva" and complained she had been "going rogue".
Mrs Palin has made clear she believes she was the victim of a botched "roll out" plan in which the McCain campaign initially kept her cosseted from the media.
To the anger of senior McCain staff, she recently went off script to point out that she had not chosen the $150,000 (£95,000) of designer clothes.
She privately blames the Republican National Committee for damaging her down-to-earth image.
Though Mr McCain has in the past talked about their public disagreements on issues such as drilling for oil and gas in the Alaska wilderness, there was no doubting that the comments in Pennsylvania referred to damaging acrimony in the campaign.
Their disagreements have been anything but "fun" for Republicans competing for Congressional seats and looking to the presidential ticket to improve their prospects.
Many senior Republicans now fear a historic landslide by Barack Obama and have begun to adopt a strategy to limit the party's losses.
He added that the internal wrangling between the McCain and Palin camps sent "a bad message to voters" and lead to an even bigger Republican loss. "The sniping is unforgivable."
Mr Bush's legacy — unfinished wars, a tainted reputation for competence, record high spending, a global economic crisis and the effective nationalisation of the financial system — have shaken loose the ideological cement that once bound the Republican party together.
Threatened with open revolt if he picked the independent Democrat Joe Lieberman as his running-mate, Mr McCain hoped to galvanise his party by choosing Sarah Palin.
The result has been a dysfunctional campaign.
Some of his own advisers say that she is more intent on positioning herself for the next presidential race than fighting this one. Her defenders point out that it is she who pulls the crowds, not him, and suggest that Mrs Palin has been ill-served - even betrayed — by Mr McCain's team.
She is increasingly giving voice to the dissent in Republican ranks, criticising the decisions to pull the campaign out of Michigan and to avoid making racially combustible attacks on Barack Obama over his links with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
When she went to Iowa at the weekend, it may well have been significant that she hinted at support for ethanol subsidies which are opposed by Mr McCain but will put her in good stead when the state kicks off the presidential nominating process in 2012.
There is little doubt that as a populist pitbull champion of culturally conservative issues she excites core Republicans in a way that Mr McCain cannot, not least because the party has moved decisively to the Right over the past two decades. Mrs Palin is also coming to symbolise a fresh rift in the party between the base and the Establishment.
The list of Republicans backing Mr Obama includes not only centrist figures such as General Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State, but also Ken Adelman — a leading neocon who advised Donald Rumsfeld on Iraq and introduced Dick Cheney, the Vice-President, to Paul Wolfowitz, the hawkish former Deputy Defence Secretary.
Mr Adelman admits to being startled at finding himself in Democrat ranks, attributing his defection to doubts about Mr McCain's temperament and his “appalling lack of judgment” in picking Mrs Palin. He told The New Yorker magazine: “I would not have hired her for even a mid-level post in the arms-control agency.”
Christopher Buckley, whose father helped to found the modern conservative movement, has also swallowed his right-wing principles to back Mr Obama, contrasting the Democrat's “first-class intellect” with Mr McCain's decision to pluck Mrs Palin from the Alaskan wilderness. “What on Earth can he have been thinking?” he asked.
Mrs Palin promises to eschew the traditional hierachy even as she hints at having a very big part in the Republicans' future. “I would love to promote the party ideals if we're going to live out the ideals and maybe allow other American voters to understand what the principles of the party are,” she told The Weekly Standard magazine. “We've got to be assured we have enough people in the party who will live out those ideals and it's not just rhetoric. Otherwise, I'd be wasting my time.”
At one recent rally she said:
“We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington, DC. We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard-working, very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation.” Her problem is that with polls suggesting that North Carolina, Virginia and tracts of the Rocky Mountain West are heading into Mr Obama's columns, “real America” may no longer be big enough to elect a Republican president.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
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