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Palin shocked to learn she backs Fannon: MAYOR: Candidate spliced an old statement into a new ad.
[October 01, 2006]

Palin shocked to learn she backs Fannon: MAYOR: Candidate spliced an old statement into a new ad.

(Anchorage Daily News (Alaska) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Oct. 1--WASILLA -- Who's supporting whom for Matanuska-Susitna Borough mayor became a hot issue Saturday morning when Republican gubernatorial candidate Sarah Palin, on her way to the airport for a Fairbanks flight, heard a radio ad saying she backed Wasilla resident Charlie Fannon.

"I was shocked and disappointed to hear that ad on the radio," Palin stated in a Saturday statement released later. "I made clear to Mr. Fannon that I was supporting Curt Menard in the 2006 election. For him to re-run this ad knowing that I am publicly supporting Curt is a major breach of trust."

But Fannon said he has no plans to abandon the ad he created out of an old Palin statement, saying she made the statement publicly and he has no problem using it.

Earlier in the week, Palin appeared in newspaper ads saying "I'm proud to support Curt Menard" and teamed up with Menard to make radio spots saying she and he share similar values.

How, then, did she end up in an ad four days before the election supporting Charlie Fannon?

Simple, Fannon said. He spliced a line from an ad he used in his unsuccessful 2003 bid for borough mayor, in which Palin backed him and was his campaign chairwoman. He lost that race by five votes to incumbent Mayor Tim Anderson.

Fannon said he ran for mayor this year at Palin's encouragement. He and Palin have been allies since she hired Fannon as Wasilla police chief shortly after she became Wasilla mayor in 1997. He said Palin has appeared supportive of his race this year.

He didn't ask her or any other Republican candidates for an endorsement, he said.

"They're all running their own campaigns," Fannon said.

Then he saw an ad that indicated Palin was supporting Menard.

"I thought 'Nah, that couldn't be,' " Fannon said. So he tried to call Palin but couldn't reach her. A few days later, he got in touch with a campaign staffer who said Palin was supporting Menard. Fannon said he informed the campaign he planned to use public statements Palin had made about him in campaign ads. The staffer asked to inspect the statements before they were used.

"I said no way," Fannon said. "I'm not going to send an ad over to my opponent's camp!"

So Fannon spliced Palin's 2003 words of support between statements made by Wasilla Sen. Lyda Green and Wasilla Mayor Dianne Keller. He didn't use other 2003 ads, like the one in which Palin says she's on her way to the polls "right now" to vote for him. That would have crossed the ethical line, he said.

Within a few hours of the ad's airing Saturday morning, Fannon said he had a backlog of messages on his cellular phone.

"This is really causing huge problems," Fannon said. "I didn't create this situation. Sarah asked me what I thought she should do, and I said to stay out of it and let us fight it out. At this point, this is turning into a hot potato."

One of Fannon's messages was from Palin, who asked him to pull the ad immediately, he said. He said he doesn't plan to.

"I don't know what to do other than continue on with my campaign these last three days. I'm kind of walking blind at this point, but I've got a campaign policy that I'm following."

Palin was traveling to Fairbanks and Mat-Su events Saturday and unable to respond. Her campaign put out a press release Saturday afternoon about the issue.

Palin campaign spokesman Curtis Smith on Saturday called the spliced ad "obsolete" and said Fannon was seeking a "political bounce" from Palin's popularity. Menard got Palin's support, he said, because the two families have been close for years.

"My history with Curt and the entire Menard family goes back 35 years," Palin stated in a press release. "Curt's son was a godfather to my son, and there was never any question he would have my full support."

The Curt Menard for Mayor race is grappling with the ad's implications, too. The ad's airing only days before the election leaves little time for candidates to respond. With four days to go, Menard said, it was "low-level" politics that are surprising from Fannon, a former police chief.

The mayor's race has been issue-based and free from mudslinging, Menard said. He said he was disappointed to see it sullied.

"We've been respectful of each other ... it was very nice up to this point," he said.


Copyright (c) 2006, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.
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