Palin Usurped "Concession" Speech

In their new book Sarah From Alaska, Shushannah Walshe and Scott Conroy have provided drafts of two versions of a speech that vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin was to have delivered on Election Night 2008 in Phoenix--if only John McCain and his top brass, including Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter, had allowed her to do so.

Headlines reporting the story in the Los Angeles Times declared "Sarah Palin's Speeches Were Ready but Never Seen -- Until Now," while ABC posted its story as "Sarah Palin's Never-Heard Concession, Victory Speeches."

While Palin did not deliver her concession speech on election night, she did, in fact, deliver most of it, nearly verbatim, only eight days later at a meeting of the Republican Governors Association on November 13 in Miami, Florida.

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Here are two examples:

Concession: My fellow Americans, tens of millions of you shared our convictions and gave us your votes. And I thank you for your confidence. For us, it was not our time ... not our moment. But it is our country ... the winner will be our president ... and I wish Barack Obama well as the 44th president of the United States.

RGA: Tens of millions of Americans shared our convictions and they gave us their votes. ... But for us, it was not our time. It was not our moment. But it is our country. And the winner will be our President. And I wish Barack Obama well as the 44th President of the United States.

***

Concession: I will remember all the young girls who came up to me to our rallies, sometimes taking off from school, just to see only the second woman ever nominated by a major party in a national election.

RGA: For years to come, I'm going to remember all the young girls who came up to me at rallies to see the first woman having the privilege of carrying our party's VP nomination.

Walshe and Conroy spin a fascinating account how Palin's concession speech, crafted by former Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully and his associate Lindsay Hayes, became a final skirmish in what had become an ugly and open civil war between the McCain and Palin camps during the GOP campaign. It got so bad, according to Walshe and Conroy, that Schmidt ordered the lights be turned off on Palin, fearing that she would still try to deliver the speech and steal McCain's final dignity from him at the close of the campaign.

Palin clearly built her remarks at the RGA around those crafted by Scully and Hayes, whose salaries as speechwriters were paid for by the Committee to Elect John McCain. Virtually every thought or phrase in the Scully-Hayes concession speech made their way into Palin's RGA remarks. While Scully acknowledged that he was aware of their use, Palin did not notify McCain's top senior advisors that she was going to be hijacking these remarks at the RGA (one told me that he was completely unaware), even though they had been paid for by the campaign.

While Palin made a number of small changes to the original concession speech and added many additional comments to her RGA remarks, there was one significant change that she made in the eight days after they were crafted. The original read:

And when a black citizen prepares to fill the office of Washington and Lincoln, that is a shining moment in our history that can be lost on no one.

In Miami she removed what, in the original context, was a rather awkwardly constructed, if not disturbing, racialized reference to Obama, to:

And as he prepares to fill the office of Washington and Lincoln, know that this is a shining moment in American history.

Few people beyond Scully probably were aware that Palin had incorporated the remarks into the RGA speech. "[Palin] was so polarizing," Walshe and Conroy conclude in what is an otherwise surprisingly empathetic portrait of Palin, "that she inspired a civil war within her own campaign during the final days before the election."

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Award-winning writer and filmmaker Geoffrey Dunn's book The Lies of Sarah Palin: The Untold Story Behind Her Relentless Quest for Power will be released by St. Martin's Press in spring 2010.

2009-08-29-redshoestiny.jpeg

Award-winning writer and filmmaker Geoffrey Dunn's book The Lies of Sarah Palin: The Untold Story Behind Her Relentless Quest for Power will be released by St. Martin's Press in spring 2010.