The money question: Who went rogue and leaked private correspondence between Todd Palin, Joe Miller, Palin’s lawyer, and SarahPAC’s treasurer?
Miller has had a heavy schedule of fundraising in Washington D.C., and has made multiple appearances on Fox News in recent weeks. On September 19, he appeared on Fox News Sunday with Neil Cavuto [sic] who addressed the rumor of a Palin presidential run, and asked Miller if he thought Sarah Palin was qualified to be president.
Miller’s non-committal response that there were “a number of great candidates out there” for the job fell far short of a Palin endorsement, and seems to have roused the ire of Todd Palin, who launched an angry email blasting Miller on behalf of his wife. Palin sent the email on the morning of the Cavuto interview to Tim Crawford, Joe Miller and the Palins’ personal attorney, Thomas Van Flein (who also serves as Miller’s attorney.) In the email, Todd Palin instructs SarahPAC treasurer Tim Crawford to “Hold off on any letter for Joe. Sarah put her ass on the line for Joe and yet he can’t answer a simple question “is Sarah Palin Qualified to be President”. I DON’T KNOW IF SHE IS.”…
The email continues, “Sarah spent all morning working on a Face book post for Joe, she won’t use it, not now. Put yourself in her shoe’s Joe for one day.” Though the exact contents of the Facebook post and the previously mentioned letter are not clear, it is obvious that the Palins did not, at the time of the email, intend to put any more political muscle behind Miller’s candidacy, and were specifically withholding support they had intended to give in retribution for Miller’s failure to support Palin’s presidential aspirations.
You can read the two e-mails in PDF form here. The big media takeaway, obviously, is Todd Palin allegedly demanding an endorsement from Joe Miller, which supposedly points to a Palin presidential run. The way the e-mail reads to me, though, is more as an accusation of ingratitude, not an expectation of official support. If you watch the clip below from September 19 (skip ahead to 8:45), all Wallace asked him is whether Palin’s qualified, not whether he’d support her. Miller’s response was to duck the question on grounds that he’s focused on the Senate race; he never says “I don’t know if she is” as claimed in the e-mail, but yeah, it’s odd that he wouldn’t respond with the perfunctory “sure, she’s qualified.” Maybe that’s because he’s worried about alienating Palin-hating centrist Republicans whom he needs to peel away from Murkowski. Or maybe it’s because, as R.S. McCain suggests, there are pro-Huckabee staffers on Miller’s team whom he doesn’t want to antagonize. Miller forwarded the alleged e-mail from Todd to a number of people (their addresses are blacked out), but it looks like they’re members of his staff — and presumably one of them is either the leaker or forwarded the e-mail on to someone who leaked it to the anti-Palin blogger. The question is … why? Even if there are Huckabee loyalists involved in the campaign who want to trip Palin up, why create a headache for Miller by doing this now? Wait until after election day.
I don’t think there’s a downside in this for Todd Palin — as even Dave Weigel acknowledges, all he’s doing is zealously defending his wife — but to the extent that it focuses attention on Miller’s refusal to say that Palin’s qualified, it’s an awkward divide at crunch time during the campaign. (They’re due to appear together at an event on Saturday.) Presumably he’s already being booked on Greta’s show to make amends and declare “you’re damned right she’s qualified!”