Palin publicity tour part campaign, part Twitter- and Facebook-fest

McClatchy NewspapersNovember 16, 2009 

WASHINGTON — By now, nearly everyone with a television has seen the teases for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's appearance Monday on Oprah Winfrey's show. (Will Levi come to Thanksgiving dinner? Stay tuned!)

Thanks to a sloppy stock clerk at an undisclosed bookstore, there've been plenty of leaks from Palin's memoir, "Going Rogue," which officially hits bookstores Tuesday.

The Palin publicity blitz has begun, and if it has elements of a political campaign, a Twitter feed and that of a top-tier rock band touring second-tier cites, well, that's by design.

Palin, who taped her appearance on Oprah last week, kicks off her tour Tuesday at a Barnes & Noble in Grand Rapids, Mich. She'll swing through small cities such as Fort Wayne, Ind., Washington, Pa., Roanoke, Va. — places where she had triumphant appearances last year on the campaign trial as Sen. John McCain's vice presidential running mate.

"I've decided to stop in cities that are not usually included in a typical book tour," Palin wrote on her Facebook page, which has been her chief mode of communicating since she stepped down as Alaska governor in July. She's looking forward to visiting military posts like Fort Bragg, N.C., Palin wrote on Facebook, and "reconnecting with friends my family made last year on the campaign trail in different book signing venues."

Post-Thanksgiving, Palin hints at heading west on her book tour — but it's not clear yet whether she's going to extend her tour to Alaska. Her publicist didn't return repeated phone calls or e-mails.

So what's in the book?

There's some juicy campaign trail gossip, writes the Associated Press reporter who last week tracked down a copy of "Going Rogue." In it, Palin reportedly claims that as much as $50,000 of the legal bills she amassed while she was governor of Alaska came from the vetting the McCain campaign did of her as a vice presidential candidate.

The book also "describes heart-wrenching anguish about her teen daughter's pregnancy playing out before a national audience," reports the AP.

There's also plenty of media bashing, according to an excerpt leaked to the Drudge Report Web site. Palin was barred even from talking to the reporters on her campaign plane, according to the excerpt of her book.

"By the third week in September, a 'Free Sarah' campaign was under way and the press at large was growing increasingly critical of the McCain camp's decision to keep me, my family and friends back home, and my governor's staff all bottled up," according to the excerpt on Drudge.

But in the same passage, she snipes about her interview with Katie Couric, saying that a McCain-Palin aide urged her to do the interview because the CBS anchor had "low self-esteem."

There's also a long, dull section on the natural gas pipeline, tedious to everyone but Alaskans, warns one television producer who had an embargoed copy of the book in preparation for Palin's appearance on his boss's show.

McCain, asked Friday at a press conference whether he'd seen the book yet, said that he'd received a signed copy on Thursday and would "be reading it with interest."

Already, though, the book is destined to be a best-seller — it already is. Publisher HarperCollins printed 1.5 million copies, and in a retail war unrelated to Palin, Amazon.com, Target and Wal-Mart have slashed prices as low as $8.98 on the $28.99 hardcover version of the book.

For Shannon Cullip of Pandemonium Booksellers & Cafe in Palin's hometown of Wasilla, Palin's book is the hottest sell her bookstore has ever seen. She fielded 100 pre-orders for "Going Rogue," an unheard-of amount for the store.

"I had one fellow order 25," Cullip said. "We're just a little bookstore, but in our frame of reference, that's pretty big."

Part of Palin's strategy in marketing herself and her book appears to be a heavy social networking presence. She announced her book tour on Facebook and has said she'll return to posting on Twitter when the tour begins in earnest this week. Palin, who stopped tweeting when she stepped down as governor, has returned to Twitter under the name SarahPalinUSA.

So perhaps it's fitting to include this assessment of Palin's book and political fortunes, posted Friday on Twitter by University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato.

"Sarah Palin's book?" Sabato wrote. "It will be long forgotten by the time the GOP POTUS contest begins in earnest. Views about Palin are firm, pro & con."

Palin as the Republican nominee for president would be "2012's equivalent of 1964's Barry Goldwater," said Sabato, calling her possible position at the top of the GOP ticket a potential landslide for Democrats.

"If Sarah Palin is the 2012 GOP nominee for President, the Republican Party platform will be the longest suicide note ever written," he twittered.

As for the book's rogue appearance before its release on Tuesday? Palin bemoans it on — you guessed it — her Facebook page. "As is expected," she complains, "the AP and a number of subsequent media outlets are erroneously reporting the contents of the book."

"Keep your powder dry, read the book, and enjoy it!" Palin added. "Lots of great stories about my family, Alaska, and the incredible honor it was to run alongside Senator John McCain."

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McClatchy Newspapers 2009

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