How ghost-writing letters to the editor for McCain works

Salon asked Margriet Oostveen for proof that she had ghost-written letters to the editor for the McCain campaign. Here are the guidelines, talking points, and sample letters she was given.

Published September 24, 2008 10:45AM (EDT)

The text of the attached sample letter:

Dear Editor:

Sarah Palin's selection by John McCain completes the dream ticket the American people have prayed for to clean up national politics. She brings to the Republican ticket the character, integrity, and depth of experience to produce real change in Washington. Her executive experience challenging corruption and special interests in resource-rich Alaska -- even within her own party -- produced landmark ethics reform legislation while promoting development of energy resources. Her veto cut budgetary spending, and she refused $400 million federal taxpayer dollars to fund the infamous "bridge to nowhere." Palin's courageous presence with Alaska National Guard serving in harm's way serves her well as a potential Commander-in-Chief of the United States military forces, and saying goodbye to her own son deploying to Iraq lets every mother know she understands their concerns. While Barack Obama spent his time crafting his personal story with votes of "present" in the Illinois House and campaigning for President during his first U.S. Senate term, Palin had boots-on-the-ground proving her executive ability to lead. McCain-Palin get my vote for their willingness to force the REAL CHANGE to return Washington to representing the Americans who elected them.

More sample letters:

Guidelines for writing letters to the editor:

Talking points, Page 1:

Talking points, Page 2:

The letters Oostveen wrote, typos included:

Dear editor,

Being the on-in-a-million executive supermom is not even the biggest quality of Sarah Palin. Her biggest plus to me is that, being amazingly smart and qualified, she managed to remain a woman like us. She is the PTA running hockey moms. She is the working mothers of special needs children. She is every caring mother of a challenging teenager. And most of all, she is just like any mother of a child who deploys to Iraq in the service of this country.

My son too, is there.

And my heart needs him back safe so much.

But when I see him again, I also want to see his face glow with pride. Just like the day he told me he enlisted.

That is why Senator John McCain could count on my vote from day one.

With Sarah Palin, I have even more reason to trust in victory. She represents my heart.


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Dear Editor,

While Barack Obama was worried about the price of rucola at Whole Foods, Sarah Palin challenged the influence of the big oil companies. It was she who fought for the development of new energy resources. This proves that already as a governor of Alaska, a state the liberal media now like to scrutinize as being not important enough to earn experience, she did something with much greater consequence for the energy crisis than buying overpriced organic food. So who has the record of accomplishment here?


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Dear editor,

Every mother knows that if you want to help a kid grow up to like a decent citizen instead of a whiner, making the effort of saying 'no' can be crucial. As a stay-at-home mom, this is what I admire in Sarah Palin. She has actually said 'no' by cutting budgetary spending as governor of Alaska. She said 'no' to the bridge to nowhere and saved taxpayers 400 million dollars. You don't need the experience Sarah Palin obviously does have, to recognize the importance of her decisions. Let's show a next generation of voters how to keep this great country great.


By Mark Schone

Mark Schone is Salon's executive news editor.

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2008 Elections Iraq War John Mccain R-ariz.