Sarah Palin e-mails: Staffer saw space for governor on racism

In one exchange from the e-mails of Sarah Palin released Friday, a staffer suggests that Alaska’s then-governor is uniquely placed to speak to racial issues.

Palin was responding to an e-mail from her rural affairs adviser, Rhonda McBride, about a radio host who had made a racist, sexist joke about Native Alaskan women. Palin wrote: “Disgusting. And I take it personally when I consider they’re talking about my daughters.” She is presumably referencing the fact that, because her husband, Todd, is part Native Alaskan, her children are as well. “The House of Rep. will be doing a letter or resolution . . . We’re trying to find a joint vehicle where our office chimes in too.”

McBride went on to suggest that there was opening for Palin to start a wider dialogue on race.

“The Obama candidacy has triggered a national dialogue on race — that’s having an impact here on the native community,” she said. “The ‘racial’ issue is on people’s minds — as you were quick to pick up on — at the [Alaska Superior Court Judge] Tom Stewart memorial . . . You and Todd are in the unique position to take leadership here.”

McBride left the Palin administration in October 2008, saying that a Native Alaskan would be better suited for the job: “I think the Palin administration is very well-intended. I just don’t think I can bring the message on these issues as well as an Alaska Native can.” But she later told a newspaper that she was disappointed that Palin never made time to speak with her.

Palin was criticized during her tenure for not paying more attention to Native Alaskan issues. That October, she formed an administrative group to address the subject.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.

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