The Lesson of Todd Palin's Leaked E-Mail

Here's the thing about the leaked e-mail from Todd Palin to Joe Miller: if you go around sending aggressive e-mails to people, they're going to get out.

Yesterday afternoon, the Alaska political blog The Mudflats published an e-mail from Todd Palin to GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller, sent in late September, that expressed strong displeasure with Miller for failing to support Sarah Palin more strongly in a potential 2012 presidential bid.

Miller evidently forwarded it to some campaign associates. Here's an image of the chain:

Todd Palin email.jpg
A factual note: it does not actually appear that Joe Miller said he didn't know if Palin was qualified to be president, and no headlines, to my knowledge, have been written to that effect. The Mudflats links Todd Palin's assumption to this September 22 interview with Fox's Neil Cavuto, in which the host does not actually ask Miller whether he thinks Palin is qualified.

Cavuto does ask, "Would you support her for president?" Miller responds: "There are a number of great candidates out there ... we have had, you know, a number of people that have introduced their names as potential candidates in 2012. Certainly Palin is on the top of that ticket--you've got a number of folk that any one of which would be better than President Obama..." Which is not the same thing as saying "I don't know if she is" qualified to serve as president.

A leak like this, however, reminds us of how rare it is that we get a window into the political dealings the Palins undertake.

Since the end of the 2008 presidential campaign, the Palins have run a notoriously tight ship. Press access is nonexistent. Her political organization does not field questions; it does not announce things. Sarah Palin communicates her sentiments via Facebook, Twitter, and appearances on Fox News in her role as a contributing analyst.

There aren't really any leaks from Palin's present or past allies, save for anecdotes delivered to Vanity Fair writers conducting large-scope profile pieces of the former governor, and many of those seem to come from former John McCain aides. None of them involve name attribution.

The reason this e-mail got out, apparently, is that 1) Miller's camp didn't like it, and 2) Miller's camp didn't think it needed the Palins, or at least wasn't careful enough to not let the e-mail get out. The lesson, then, is to gauge such things more carefully before firing off a threatening missive.

Joe Miller, to be sure, owes his presence in this Senate race to Sarah Palin, but not because she endorsed him. Palin convinced the Tea Party Express to enter the race and spend around $600,000 on his behalf. Palin did appear in Tea Party Express ads for Miller, Todd Palin did hold a fundraiser for him, and the former governor did record a robocall for his campaign. But, beyond that, she didn't really do anything for him. She didn't appear at a single rally or a fundraiser.

That said, Miller is now locked in a very close three-way race, and he may just lose this one to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, even though she's running as a write-in candidate. With Tea Party Express pledging to spend hundreds of thousands more to help him in the general election, Miller may need some more help from Sarah Palin yet.

But whether or not Miller's campaign was right to leak this (and it almost certainly came from someone connected with them), it's safe to say that Todd Palin's hot-headedness is the reason we're reading copies of it right now.
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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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