The “free Sarah” strategy is coming but it’s not here yet. Maverick’s with her today, then the debate, and then she’ll start doing talk radio and looking for opportunities to “tell her story.” Supposedly there was a feisty exchange with Couric this afternoon over her churchgoing — “Sarah Barracuda showed up today,” said one aide — but it didn’t air. Maybe tomorrow? As for the Pakistan bit, the only way that talking to a voter is “gotcha journalism” is if CNN distorted the conversation somehow through editing. Did they? If so, what context was omitted that would change the meaning when she said of cross-border raids, “If that’s what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should”?

For what it’s worth, Politico claims that the gaffe CBS is withholding for later in the week is her blanking when asked to name any Supreme Court cases besides Roe v. Wade. They’d better prove it; if they don’t, it’s an egregious smear. Meanwhile, a progress report from debate camp:

One McCain source said Palin’s husband, Todd Palin, was frustrated with how the campaign was preparing his wife for the debate, but did not elaborate. Another McCain aide, however, dismissed those reports.

But a McCain adviser said the conservatives worried that the campaign was squeezing the charm out of Palin were missing the point.

The adviser said preparing her for the debate was “really hard” because the Alaska governor was learning about issues she had never dealt with before — including those regarding North Korea and other hot spots around the globe.