A few things Scherer and I have heard re PersonalShopperGate:
You’ll be shocked to learn that no one at the campaign is happy about this.
You’ll be equally shocked to learn that lots of Republicans outside the campaign are ripped about it. “What a stunning display of incompetence!” one railed to me. “It’s the kind of political malpractice that deserves capital punishment!”
Here’s what we know, or think we know. One Republican familiar with the situation said the money was spent out of the coordinated expense fund, which is paid for by the RNC, because there are some gray areas in the rules about buying clothing with campaign money. (Aside: I think the rules prohibit it, which is why — according to other R’s and some D’s I talked to — both parties tend to hide clothing and other such expenses in their ad budgets. “I can’t tell you how many denim shirts I’ve bought for candidates,” said one media strategist. “If the cost of the ad is $10,000, you bill the campaign $10,075 to cover the shirt.”)
Why weren’t Palin’s clothing and accessory expenses buried somewhere, so that reporters wouldn’t find out about them? That’s where the political malpractice occured, say disgruntled Repubs. One way to have done it would have been to have the convention organization pay for it. Two Republicans told us they’ve heard that the McCain campaign and/or the RNC initially tried to get the bill paid out of convention funds, but for whatever reason couldn’t make it happen. The fact that personal shopper/middleman Jeff Larson was CEO of the Minneapolis St. Paul 2008 Convention Host Committee is intriguing in this regard.
Where is Sarah Palin in all this? Pretty much a victim of the campaign whirlwind and her own prime time political inexperience, it seems. “It’s really unfortunate for her given the fact that she is really more of a Macy’s person. She is everything that she has represented herself to be,” says a second Republican familiar with the situation. “She is a middle class mom. But because during the scrum of her selection and the convention she got outfitted, now it has landed on her.” That source says that Palin shops at Target for Piper. The source also noted that the real problem with this story — why it’s so potentially so damaging — is that is so easy for the public to understand. “It’s just so easily digestible.”
And it looks great, too.