WASHINGTON, Sep 16 – Sarah Palin’s husband jumped to her defence on Thursday over an upcoming tell-all book that claims she had a premarital fling with a basketball star and dabbled with cocaine.
The allegations in “The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin” clash with the Tea Party darling’s persona as a champion of homespun values – including abstinence from sex before marriage – just as she ponders whether to go for the Republican presidential nomination.
To be published on Tuesday, “The Rogue” is written by veteran journalist Joe McGinniss, who notoriously rattled the Palins last year when he moved into a house next to their lakeside residence in Alaska as part of his research.
“This is a man who has been relentlessly stalking my family to the point of moving in right next door to us to harass us and spy on us to satisfy his creepy obsession with my wife,” husband Todd Palin said.
“His book is full of disgusting lies, innuendo, and smears,” he added in a statement carried by several US news media and political blogs.
NBC’s “Today” program, airing an interview with McGinniss, said the author quotes friends of Sarah Palin as speaking of “a sexual encounter” she had with basketballer Glen Rice in 1987, shortly before she and Todd Palin eloped.
Palin was then a local television reporter just out of college, and Rice – a National Basketball Association all-star great – was in Alaska with his Michigan college team for a tournament, the supermarket tabloid said.
“In a short time, we got to know a lot about one another,” Rice told McGinniss, according to “Today”. “It was all done in a respectful way… She was a gorgeous woman, super nice. I was blown away by her.”
McGinniss also told “Today” that friends of the Palins described snorting cocaine with them – another allegation that collides with mother-of-five Sarah Palin’s outspoken social conservativism.
“I’m not saying Todd and Sarah Palin today abuse cocaine or even use it,” the writer said. “But there is no question that they both did at one point in their lives.”
McGinniss described Palin as a “phenomenon” who was also “an absolute utter fraud” and “at worst, a vindictive hypocrite … What really surprised me is that the people who know her best like her least.”
The National Enquirer, a supermarket tabloid, said this week that the book tells of Palin, before she became Alaska’s governor in 2006, snorting cocaine “off an overturned 55-gallon oil drum while snowmobiling with pals.”
On his blog, McGinniss confirmed the authenticity of snippets of “The Rogue” in the Doonesbury comic strip this week that touch upon Palin’s love of shopping and the firing of non-whites from her team after she became governor.
Palin, fellow Republican John McCain’s running mate in the 2008 election that put Barack Obama in the White House, has been touring the United States for months, whipping up Tea Party support against big government.
But she has been vague over whether she will formally seek the Republican presidential nomination. The most recent opinion polls have put her well behind Texas Governor Rick Perry as the favourite, trailing in third or fourth place.
Palin – who published her own book “Going Rogue” in 2009 – is also the subject of a book next week from Levi Johnston, who fathered a child out of wedlock with daughter Bristol Palin when the two were still in high school.
Last week “Sarah Palin: You Betcha!”, a documentary by award-winning British director Nick Broomfield, premiered at the Toronto film festival.