The Other McCain

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Indianola ‘Clusterf**k’
UPDATE: Iowa Rally Organizer Trashes Palin to NBC News?
UPDATE: Palin Blames O’Donnell?

Posted on | August 31, 2011 | 55 Comments

UPDATE 4:15 p.m. ET: Holy stinking crap!

Tea Party of America President Ken Crow told NBC News, “I had to cancel Ms. O’Donnell” after a conversation with Sarah Palin aides — and is now hopeful Palin will attend the Saturday rally in Indianola.
He was told by Palin’s team that he’d have a final answer shortly.
This comes after failed Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell was in, then out, then back in, and now indefinitely out. And Palin was in, then “on hold.”

What a nightmare: Crow makes Palin the bad guy, telling NBC News (!!) that it’s Palin’s fault that O’Donnell got dumped, thus feeding the MSM’s “diva” meme. I’m beginning to believe one friend’s conspiracy theory that this is all being orchestrated by Rick Perry’s campaign.

UPDATE 4:25 p.m. ET: Ace ponders the What Were They Thinking questions, but never mind the thinking, it’s the saying that’s the real issue: Why would Crow tell NBC News — the propaganda apparatus of the DNC — about a conflict between Palin and O’Donnell, knowing how harmful such a narrative would be to Palin?

UPDATE 4:48 p.m. ET: The raw craziness reaches stratospheric levels:

An O’Donnell aide told RCP that the former GOP candidate for senator in Delaware had texted Palin to ask about the rapidly developing situation but had not received a response.
While it is clear that O’Donnell’s proposed speaking slot was not acceptable to Palin’s camp, the Palin aide denied that anyone on the Palin team had explicitly demanded that O’Donnell be removed from the speaker’s list.
Palin’s concern arose, the aide said, when an O’Donnell aide suggested to event organizers that Palin wanted the Delawarean to share the stage with her.
“They haven’t spoken in over a year,” the aide said of the two women.

According to whom did an O’Donnell aide do this?

How did Palin’s aides learn about this? From “event organizers”? Why would Palin’s aide then tell this to a reporter? Does the aide think that making O’Donnell the villain will make Palin look good?

UPDATE 5:10 p.m. ET: Linked by Iowa’s Shane Vander Hart who prefers “disorganized mess” as a family-friendly way to describe this clusterf–k.

UPDATE 5:30 p.m. ET: More from Ace:

Before inviting O’Donnell, did it occur to [the Iowa organizers] they should run that by their headliner/whole reason to have the rally in the first place?
Did none of them wonder about this at all?

Good question. But now Crow appears to be trying to blame it on Palin, and Palin’s staff is pointing the finger at O’Donnell. And all of this is being played out in headlines in the MSM because nobody involved seems to know how to say “no comment” when a reporter calls — unless it’s me calling, in which case either (a) my calls go straight to voicemail or (b) nobody will talk on the record.

PREVIOUSLY (12:17 p.m. ET): An uproar has suddenly erupted over Sarah Palin’s planned Sept. 3 appearance at a Tea Party rally in Indianola, Iowa. It has been reported she cancelled her appearance, but my impression — I can’t say who I’ve talked to — is that Governor Palin very much wants to appear at the event.

The reported cancellation might be best interpreted as a “final warning” gesture from Team Sarah to the event organizers: Get your act together.

Based on what I’m hearing, Ken Crow’s Tea Party of America has undergone predictable problems because the Indianola rally is the first event the group has ever sponsored. TPA gained instant credibility by recruiting longtime Des Moines Tea Party leader Charlie Gruschow, but Crow previously has had limited involvement in the movement. Once Palin was announced as the event headliner, many other people wanted to get involved, and basic problems common to volunteer organizations developed. Disputes arose over questions about what level of security was required for Governor Palin, and about who else would speak during the rally.

The recent controversy over whether Christine O’Donnell would speak at the Indianola rally was the public tip of a submerged iceberg of behind-the-scenes conflict surrounding the event, evidence of organizational ineptitude that one person described bluntly as a “clusterf–k.”

The very latest word — which arrived while I was writing this — is that Palin’s previously “cancelled” appearance is now un-cancelled, but this unfortunate public controversy can be taken as further indication of the risks involved in volunteer grassroots organizing.

UPDATE: Scott Conroy cites “two sources close to [Palin]” — I’m not going to grumble about unreturned calls right now — about “issues regarding the hosts” of the rally, and also quotes TPA’s Crow:

“The truth of the matter is you’ve got a couple old cowboys running a Tea Party and we’re not professional politicians,” Tea Party of America President Ken Crowe told RCP earlier on Wednesday morning. “I’m way green.”

Alex Pappas at the Daily Caller quotes Crow:

An organizer of the much-publicized tea party rally in Iowa this weekend says Sarah Palin would not be doing herself any favors if she drops out of the event.
“I hope that isn’t so…It would hurt her more than hurt us,” event organizer Ken Crow, the co-founder and president of the Tea Party of America, told TheDC.

Pathetic. You get Palin to headline your rally, screw up the planning and then — when Palin’s people become uncomfortable with your bungling — say her cancellation would hurt her more than it hurts you?

You never would have had a rally if it hadn’t been for Palin agreeing to appear, and she never would have agreed to it if Charlie Gruschow wasn’t involved. Everybody in the Iowa grassroots tells me they love Charlie, an experienced organizer, but Ken Crow? “Never heard of him before this.”

UPDATE II: Dave Weigel at Slate:

I met Crow in Iowa this month (I’ve been unsuccessful reaching him today) and he struck me as a classic Tea Party archetype — an amateur with big Field of Dreams ambitions. He made me well aware of all the projects he was working on but seemed a little laconic for a guy putting on a mega-rally.
“It’s gonna be televised on C-Span,” he said, “and maybe Fox, too.”
Reading up on Crow today, we find that he’s a talky activist prone to showing how much he knows. For example, on Palin: “I know for a fact she ain’t gonna run.” That’s the guy bringing Palin to Iowa for an event that reporters are attending because they wonder whether Palin will run!

Exactly. Crow’s doing an Amateur Hour act in Iowa, and he seems to be trying to convey the impression that he’s doing Sarah Palin a favor by “letting” her speak at an event that wouldn’t be a blip on the radar outside Iowa if Crow hadn’t been billing Palin as the headliner for more than a month!

UPDATE III: From the Wall Street Journal article, which has since been corrected, but which gives this background on the previously reported “cancellation”:

The former governor will now appear at a Friday event in Des Moines sponsored by the group Conservatives4Palin. It is currently scheduled for 8 p.m. at The Machine Shed Restaurant, though the location will probably have to be changed, the person close to Ms. Palin said. Ms. Palin is still scheduled to appear at a Tea Party Express tour stop Monday in New Hampshire.
Ms. Palin may still hold an event Saturday, the person said, though she has no firm plans. It’s also possible she could still attend the Indianola tea party rally, the person said.
The former governor’s team decided to back out Tuesday night after rally organizers re-invited Ms. O’Donnell to speak on stage. Organizers had booked Ms. O’Donnell, who lost her 2010 bid for a U.S. Senate seat from Delaware, to speak but quickly withdrew the invitation in an effort to avoid controversy.
A Tea Party of America leader told Ms. Palin’s aides that the former governor told him to re-invite Ms. O’Donnell, which is not true, the person said, adding that there were also issues over fund-raising and logistical changes that were not approved by Ms. Palin’s team.

If you read that carefully, you see that Palin’s team was signalling that they’d come to Iowa and do their own event, if they had to, rather than to be jacked around about this Indianola rally.

The “amateur hour” aspect shows in the decision to invite — and then dis-invite and re-invite — O’Donnell. What happened, I am told, is that once O’Donnell was announced, the organizers got e-mails from some Tea Party supporters and/or Palin fans who don’t like O’Donnell.

So then it was decfided to tell O’Donnell “no,” but you don’t ever do that.

This is just basic event planning stuff: If someone is announced to speak, but then for some reason either the organizers or the speaker change their minds — “schedule conflict.”

An unfortunate and unspecified mix-up happened, you tell the media, and you “look forward to working with [whoever] in the future.” Both the organizers and the bumped speaker get to save face, and nobody outside the tent knows what the real reason was. It’s just common courtesy.

The last thing you ever want to do in a situation like that is to appear to be publicly trashing somebody you had previously invited to your event. But that’s exactly what it looked like with the on-and-off scheduling of O’Donnell. Somebody failed to think through the possible consquences of making her a late-minute addition to the schedule, and when they started getting blowback, they pulled the trigger too quick — axing O’Donnell without considering the consequences of that, either — and then were forced to re-invite her:

Crow called the handling of O’Donnell a “mistake.”
“I didn’t handle it the way I should have,” he said. “We handled it incorrectly.”

Well, no duh. But Crow is meanwhile trying to spin this as an “aw shucks we’re just ordinary folks” thing, when Crow is the know-it-all self-promoter who got himself into a position where he’s clearly over his head. So when the WSJ quotes “a person close to” Palin as having “cited ‘continual lying’ from event organizers,” you maybe able to make a good guess who they’re talking about.

UPDATE IV: This “clusterf**k” in Indianola gives liberals in the media another chance to dump on Palin, as if this were all somehow her fault, when Palin had nothing to do with what went wrong.


55 Responses to “Indianola ‘Clusterf**k’
UPDATE: Iowa Rally Organizer Trashes Palin to NBC News?
UPDATE: Palin Blames O’Donnell?”

  1. Jamie W.
    September 1st, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

    Yes – I think next time she will be including “disclosure before the fact” in her contract, with some teeth in the consequences if that’s broken.

  2. Anonymous
    September 1st, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

    Agreed the best thing that all of them should have said to the Media:  No comment or I am not authorized to speak for anyone or I have no idea what you are talking about.  

    You would think that if anyone understood the malignancy of the the media it would be these two Ladies.  The media is the enemy and you don’t give them ammunition to shoot at you.

  3. Anonymous
    September 1st, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

    Really?   No matter what anyone else did…. O’Donnell and Palin’s chatty “aides” need to keep quiet.  There was no reason for this to escalate.

  4. People Who Like Sarah Palin Liked Her Iowa Speech; Ace of Spades, Not So Much : The Other McCain
    September 3rd, 2011 @ 10:27 pm

    […] Palin did not announce her presidential candidacy at Indianola because of her displeasure with the bungled organizing of the rally. So Tiffiny’s theory is that Palin will announce Monday at the Manchester rally, and I pass […]

  5. Anonymous
    September 5th, 2011 @ 9:30 am

    How can you be surprised that the TP spokesperson doesn’t understand the debt ceiling when it’s obvious that Bachmann, Palin, & other TP “idols” don’t understand it, either.  They talk about it while pretending they know what they’re doing.  They haven’t a clue, especially Palin who won’t do an interview without advance questions or w/anyone other than Fox.