Clothes still hot topic

Republican John McCain said Sunday that one-third of the $150,000 that the GOP spent on clothing and accessories for his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and her family, “is given back.”

McCain strategist Mark Salter said “about a third of it was returned immediately” because items were the wrong size, or for other reasons.

Salter's explanation was the first time the campaign has said any of the items had been returned.

On Sunday, Palin said she is “wearing my own clothes from my favorite consignment shop in Anchorage, Alaska,” Fox News reported.

“I … grabbed a jacket this morning to put on not realizing how warm it would be,” she said in Florida. “My own jacket.”

Last week after the purchases at such high-end department stores as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus appeared in campaign spending reports filed with the government, McCain and his aides repeatedly said the clothes would be donated to charity after the election.

News of such expensive clothes offered a stark contrast to Palin's image as an average “hockey mom.”

Tracey Schmitt, Palin's campaign spokeswoman, said some of the clothing was returned after the Republican National Convention in September. The governor generally wears her own outfits on the campaign trail, Schmitt said.

“A third was returned post-convention,” she said. “Many of the remaining clothes have never been worn.”

Schmitt said Palin intended to donate the items she has worn to charity.

“Regardless, what wasn't returned will go to charity after Election Day,” said Schmitt.

Asked about Palin as he was interviewed on NBC's “Meet the Press,” McCain rejected the notion that Palin is unqualified to be president and that she is hurting his campaign for the presidency. He also was questioned about the clothing purchases.

“Look, she lives a frugal life. She and her family are not wealthy. She and her family were thrust into this, and there was some – and some third of that money is given back, the rest will be donated to charity,” he said.