The Palin knives come out
Advisers in the McCain campaign, in suggesting that Palin advisers had been leaking damaging information about the McCain campaign to the news media, said they were particularly suspicious of Randy Scheunemann, Mr. McCain’s top foreign policy aide who had a central role in preparing Ms. Palin for the vice-presidential debate.
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As a result, two senior members of the McCain campaign said on Wednesday that Mr. Scheunemann had been fired from the campaign in its final days.
But Rick Davis, the McCain campaign manager, and Mr. Salter, one of Mr. McCain’s closest advisers, said Wednesday that Mr. Scheunemann had in fact not been dismissed.
Mr. Scheunemann, who picked up the phone in his office at McCain campaign headquarters on Wednesday afternoon, responded that “anybody who says I was fired is either lying or delusional or a whack job.”
Mr. Scheunemann was referring to widely disseminated criticism by Mr. McCain’s advisers in the final days of the campaign that Ms. Palin, as first reported in Politico, was a “whack job.”
Whatever the permutations, the advisers said they strongly believed that Mr. Scheunemann was disclosing, as one put it, “a constant stream of poison” to William Kristol, the editor of the conservative Weekly Standard and a columnist for The New York Times.
Mr. Kristol, who wrote a column on Oct. 13 calling on Mr. McCain to fire his campaign because it was “close to being out-and-out dysfunctional,” said in a telephone interview on Wednesday that the campaign advisers were paranoid. Mr. Kristol has been a strong supporter of Ms. Palin.
“I wasn’t writing poison,” Mr. Kristol said. He added: “Randy Scheunemann is a friend of mine and I think he did a good job. I talked to him, but I talked to a lot of people at the campaign.”
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