Sarah Palin's wardrobe joined the ranks of symbolic political excess Wednesday, alongside John McCain's multiple houses and John Edwards' $400 haircut.
Campaign finance reports confirmed the Republican National Committee spent $75,062 at Neiman Marcus and $49,425 at Saks Fifth Avenue in September for Palin and her family.
Advisers to Palin said the purchases – which totaled about $150,000 and were classified as “campaign accessories” – were made on the fly after Palin was chosen as the Republican vice presidential candidate on Aug. 29 and needed new clothes to match climates across the 50 states. They stressed that people other than Palin made the decision to buy such an array of clothes.
The RNC says the clothes belong to the party committee while the McCain campaign says the clothing will go to a “charitable purpose” after the election.
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Yet Republicans expressed consternation publicly and privately that the shopping sprees on her behalf would compromise Palin's standing as McCain's chief emissary to working-class voters whose salvos at the so-called cultural elite often delight audiences at Republican rallies.
“It looks like nobody with a political antennae was working on this – just one more sign of the hapless decisions in this campaign,” said Ed Rollins, a Republican political consultant. “It just undercuts Palin's whole image as a hockey mom, a ‘one-of-us' kind of candidate.”