Column: Palin's Wardrobe Undercuts Her Image

This story was written by Jessica Turnbull, Daily Collegian
I didn't make it to see Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin speak in Rec Hall last night. But I really wanted to see what she chose to wear.

The draw came after the Republican Party revealed it had spent $150,000 on Palin's wardrobe, makeup and styling since McCain announced her as his running mate. This is the campaign that is selling Palin as the girl next door and hockey mom that understands the working class.

According to the Republican National Committee, $75,062 was spent at Neiman Marcus and $49,425 at Saks Fifth Avenue in September on Palin's wardrobe alone.

The Republican ticket needs to appeal to the common voter, who likely has never visited Saks Fifth Avenue.

The average Pennsylvania college student graduates $23,000 in debt. That's the salary for Palin's makeup artist, who was paid $22,800 to work with Palin for two weeks. McCain's foreign policy adviser was paid $12,500 for two weeks of work.

The McCain/Palin ticket can't afford slip-ups about one week before Election Day. The wardrobe budget undermines the carefully constructed image the Republicans attempted to make of the Alaskan governor, who burst into the public spotlight and apparently needed the clothes to match.

Palin's appeal is her common girl persona. For Pennsylvania voters and Penn State students, she could be a person that appears to understand real-life problems such as how to pay the rent.

With a declining economy on the forefront of everyone's minds, the presidential candidates have discussed ways to cut unnecessary and irresponsible government spending. Putting $150,000 towards clothes is not a good way to start.

Palin has said the buys were only for the convention and most have never left the campaign plane. Republican officials said they always intended to donate the clothes to charity after the election. But the excuses seem to be backtracking after a poor shopping spree decision.

It's also not the first time a politician has been criticized for accessory spending. Former presidential candidate John Edwards spent $400 apiece on two haircuts and struggled to regain control of his campaign after the media published about the purchases.

Palin's mommy-in-a-rush hairdo doesn't happen by accident. She may be the mother of a six-month-old baby, but every time Palin appears in public, her image has been carefully manipulated by a skilled team of experts.

But the amount of money spent to create the picture-perfect candidate was bad judgment for McCain's officials.

Wearing expensive clothes is not taboo for the election season. Cindy McCain wore different Oscar de la Renta dresses, which cost about $5,000 each, throughout the National Republican Convention. But McCain's wardrobe choices do not conflict with the image she portrays. She is an heiress and dresses as such.

It's possible for Palin to dress fashionably and appeal to voters at the same time.

Michelle Obama is one example. Although she has also appeared numerous times in expensive designer outfits, she chose to guest host The View in a black and white pattern dress that turned out to be a $148 off-the-rack outfit.

I didn't expect Palin to appear in Rec Hall last night without the help of a professional team. She shouldn't bring her Alaska wardrobe of sweaters and pant suits to the presidential campaign.

But the next government needs to be ready to handle the volatile economy. If Palin sells herself as a person who understands the common voter, her spending should reflect that.

I'm sure she looked like a vice presidential candidate at her speech last night. But I hope her outfit didn't cost te campaign an arm and a leg.