Palin sorts through wardrobe to find RNC purchases

Published 2:52 pm Monday, November 10, 2008

WASILLA, Alaska (AP) _ Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin spent part of the weekend going through her clothing to determine what belongs to the Republican Party after it spent $150,000-plus on a wardrobe for the vice presidential nominee, according to Palin’s father.

Palin and John McCain’s campaign faced a storm of criticism over the tens of thousands of dollars spent at such high-end stores as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus to dress the nominee. Republican National Committee lawyers are still trying to determine exactly what clothing was bought for Palin, what was returned and what has become of the rest.

Palin’s father, Chuck Heath, said his daughter spent the day Saturday trying to figure out what belongs to the RNC.

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“She was just frantically … trying to sort stuff out,” Heath said. “That’s the problem, you know, the kids lose underwear, and everything has to be accounted for.

“Nothing goes right back to normal,” he said.

Heath dismissed the clothes controversy as “ridiculous,” and said his daughter told him the only clothing or accessories she had personally purchased in the last four months was a pair of shoes.

RNC lawyers have been discussing with Palin whether what’s left of the clothing and accessories purchased for her on the campaign trail will go to charity, back to stores or be paid for by Palin, a McCain-Palin campaign official said Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the campaign hadn’t authorized comment.

The McCain-Palin campaign said about a third of the clothing was returned immediately because it was the wrong size, or for other reasons. However, other purchases were apparently made after that, the campaign official said.

On Friday, Palin told reporters: “Those are the RNC’s clothes. They’re not my clothes. I never forced anybody to buy anything.”

Amid speculation in Alaska and nationwide about Palin’s political future, the candidate has scheduled a series of national interviews on Fox News Monday night, NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday and CNN on Wednesday. She also plans to attend the Republican Governors Association conference in Florida this week.

Palin has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2012. She also could seek re-election in 2010 or challenge Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Still uncertain is the fate of Sen. Ted Stevens, who is leading in his bid for another term but could be ousted by the Senate for his conviction on seven felony counts of failing to report more than $250,000 in gifts, mostly renovations on his home. Palin could appoint herself to replace Stevens.

Heath said his daughter “hasn’t shown her hand” about her political plans, but he doesn’t believe she’d appoint herself should Stevens’ seat become vacant.

In Wasilla, her hometown backers welcomed her, putting aside their disappointment over her unsuccessful bid.

Jessica Steele can’t wait to see what Sarah Palin does next — not with her political career, but with her hair.

“That’s something I want to talk to her about: What’s our vision for her hair?” says Steele, proprietor of the Beehive Beauty Shop and keeper of the governor’s up-do since 2002. “I can’t wait to see her and say, ‘OK, I’ve got you alone for three hours. Just relax, and how are you, really?'”

While Palin remains popular, the reality of defeat is evident.

Bags of fan mail, as many as 400 letters a day, partially fill a room at her parent’s house. But parents no longer encounter Secret Service agents when they pick up their children at Cottonwood Creek Elementary, which Palin’s youngest daughter, Piper, attends. A thick layer of ice covers Lake Lucille, next to the Palin’s home, and it’s no longer patrolled by Coast Guard boats.