McCain defends former aides from Palin's criticism

The Arizona senator has asked his old staffers not to battle publicly over "Going Rogue," but he spoke up anyway

Published November 18, 2009 9:40PM (EST)

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has been facing a conundrum lately: Sarah Palin's new book is filled with explicit criticism of his campaign staff, and in some cases even implicit criticism of him personally. But it wouldn't look good for him to lock horns with her publicly, and the Republican base clearly favors Palin anyway. Last week, McCain reportedly asked former senior staffers not to publicly respond to her charges.

On Wednesday, though, McCain gave an interview to Reuters in which he stepped up to defend the men and women who'd worked for him who are now being slammed by Palin.

"There's been a lot of dust flying around in the last few days and I just wanted to mention that I have the highest regard for Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace and the rest of the team, McCain said. "I appreciated all the hard work and everything they did to help the campaign .... I think it's just time to move on."

Wallace in particular has been a favorite scapegoat for Palin and her supporters, and Schmidt got perhaps the harshest treatment of anyone in "Going Rogue."

McCain did have nice things to say about Palin. "I'm still really proud of her and the campaign she ran and I think it's pretty obvious that she has a substantial base and interest out there," McCain told Reuters.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Going Rogue John Mccain R-ariz. Political Books Sarah Palin