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Conservatives to McCain camp: Let Palin be Palin

  • Story Highlights
  • Palin heading to McCain's Arizona cabin to prepare for Thursday VP debate
  • Conservatives say McCain camp is not letting Palin be herself
  • Palin had shaky interview with Katie Couric of CBS News
  • Conservative columnist asks Palin to quit to "save ... the country she loves"
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Conservatives are calling on the McCain campaign to stop keeping Gov. Sarah Palin under wraps as the Republican vice presidential nominee continues intense preparations for her debate with Democratic rival Sen. Joe Biden.

Some conservatives were bombarding the campaign with complaints that it is not allowing Palin to be herself on the campaign trail and in the debate, sources within the McCain camp told CNN.

The New York Times conservative columnist Bill Kristol argued in his column on Monday that McCain must "liberate his running mate from the former Bush aides brought in to handle her -- aides who seem to have succeeded in importing to the Palin campaign the trademark defensive crouch of the Bush White House.

"McCain picked Sarah Palin in part because she's a talented politician and communicator. He needs to free her to use her political talents and to communicate in her own voice," Kristol wrote.

One McCain source said Palin's husband, Todd Palin, was frustrated with how the campaign was preparing his wife for the debate, but did not elaborate. Another McCain aide, however, dismissed those reports.

But a McCain adviser said the conservatives worried that the campaign was squeezing the charm out of Palin were missing the point.

The adviser said preparing her for the debate was "really hard" because the Alaska governor was learning about issues she had never dealt with before -- including those regarding North Korea and other hot spots around the globe. Share your political perspective

After campaigning with her running mate, Sen. John McCain, in Ohio, she will travel Monday to McCain's Arizona cabin to cram for the debate in St. Louis, Missouri. Palin was originally scheduled to prepare for the debate with Biden in St. Louis.

The intensity of the debate preparations picked up after Palin's panned interview with Katie Couric of CBS News last week. In particular, her answer when asked to describe her foreign policy experience was widely ridiculed.Video Watch part of Palin's interview with Couric »

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"It's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America. Where -- where do they go? It's Alaska," Palin said.

The answer became instant fodder for "Saturday Night Live," as comedian Tina Fey lampooned the remark in her impersonation of the Republican vice presidential pick.

The CBS interview, described as confused and rambling by critics, also led a well-known conservative columnist to call on Palin to remove herself from the ticket.

"Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons ... Do it for your country," conservative columnist and former Palin fan Kathleen Parker of pleaded on Friday.

In defense, Republicans say the complaints are coming from "intellectual" conservatives -- not Main Street Republicans, who they insist love the "hockey mom," from Alaska, as Palin describes herself.

"These are the folks that really have responded to the candidacy of a McCain-Palin ticket. These are the folks that are showing up in huge numbers, tens of thousands, to the rallies," Leslie Sanchez, a CNN political contributor, said.

Still, some wonder, if all of this negative talk will hurt Palin.


Despite some ominous signs, some analysts say the negative comments may actually help her.

"The expectations for Sarah Palin, I think, are pretty low. So I think she can exceed expectations. I'm not sure she can disappoint them," Alex Burns, a reporter for Politico, said.

CNN's Carol Costello, Dana Bash and Scott J. Anderson contributed to this report.

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