‘Newsweek’: Sarah Palin ‘Sailed Into the Room Wearing Nothing But a Towel’

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"Damn right I did!" Photo: Getty Images

Newsweek is dropping tidbits from its quadrennial Election Project, "How He Did It." In it, their reporters use all the information and anecdotes they gleaned on the campaign trail, especially the stuff that was embargoed until after the election. Some of it is tedious, other bits of it are great. There's even breaking news — like how campaign databases for both McCain and Obama were thoroughly hacked, requiring FBI investigation, and how both were deeply afraid of the debates. Here are some of the moments we found telling about some of our favorite candidates:

Seductive Sarah Palin: "At the GOP convention in St. Paul, Palin was completely unfazed by the boys' club fraternity she had just joined. One night, Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter went to her hotel room to brief her. After a minute, Palin sailed into the room wearing nothing but a towel, with another on her wet hair. She told them to chat with her laconic husband, Todd. 'I'll be just a minute,' she said."

Hesitant Hillary Clinton: "On a cold midmorning in January 2007, Hillary sat in the sunny living room of her house on Whitehaven Street in Washington, a well-to-do enclave off Embassy Row where she lived with her mother and, on occasion, her husband. She was finishing a last round of policy prep with her aides before getting on a plane to Iowa for her first big campaign swing. In a moment of quiet, she looked around the living room and said, to no one in particular, 'I so love this house. Why am I doing this?' Her policy director, Neera Tanden, and her advertising director, Mandy Grunwald, laughed, a little too lightheartedly. Clinton went on. 'I'm so comfortable here. Why am I doing this?' Tanden spoke up. 'The White House isn't so bad,' she said. 'I've been there,' said Clinton."

Oblivious Obama: "A newcomer to the campaign in September 2007, Betsy Myers — sister of former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers and a former Clinton White House staffer herself — hoped that Obama, in town overnight, might come to headquarters to cheer the staff. 'But he didn't,' she recalled later that fall. 'He went to the gym instead.' She paused as she recollected. 'He hasn't been in the headquarters in months. A lot of these people are young and really look up to him, and it would have meant a lot to them if he'd stopped by.' Another pause. 'Nobody would have had to tell Bill Clinton to stop by if he was just a couple of blocks away. You would have had to physically drag Bill Clinton out of there.'"

Measured McCain: "Palin launched her attack on Obama's association with William Ayers, the former Weather Underground bomber, before the campaign had finalized a plan to raise the issue. McCain's advisers were working on a strategy that they hoped to unveil the following week, but McCain had not signed off on it, and top adviser Mark Salter was resisting. McCain also was reluctant to use Obama's incendiary pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, as a campaign issue. The Republican had set firm boundaries: no Jeremiah Wright; no attacking Michelle Obama; no attacking Obama for not serving in the military. McCain balked at an ad using images of children that suggested that Obama might not protect them from terrorism. Schmidt vetoed ads suggesting that Obama was soft on crime (no Willie Hortons). And before word even got to McCain, Schmidt and Salter scuttled a 'celebrity' ad of Obama dancing with talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres (the sight of a black man dancing with a lesbian was deemed too provocative)."

Barack Obama: How He Did It [Newsweek]