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McCain Camp Assails Book-Banning Report as a 'Smear'

Team McCain has rejected the “vicious smear” that as mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin wanted to ban books from the local library, but the campaign’s 1,615-word memo on the subject indirectly supports the accusation. As Palin’s mayoral predecessor recalls, “She asked the library how she could go about banning books.” According to the Anchorage Daily News, she also fired the library director “without warning” for “not fully supporting her efforts to govern.”

According to the campaign’s statement, “then-Mayor Palin never asked anyone to ban a book and not one book was ever banned, period.” The Wasilla library’s official response (alert: .PDF file) agrees with the McCain campaign: “We have no records of any books being ‘banned or censured’ ever.”

But that doesn’t mean that the mayor didn’t ask if she could have books banned.

The campaign memo does not dispute this point and refers to “a rhetorical question of the Wasilla Library Director about the library’s book-challenge policy. It was a rhetorical question — nothing more.”

Whether or not she was acting professionally in response to community pressure, the McCain campaign has confirmed that Sarah Palin did inquire about the process by which the Wasilla library might ban books.

McCain campaign statement:

When first elected, Mayor Palin asked a rhetorical question of the Wasilla Library Director about the library’s book-challenge policy. It was a rhetorical question — nothing more. As Mayor Palin said at the time, she was merely asking questions about administration policies (the book-challenge policy being pertinent because of the local debate at the time) and that she had no materials in mind when she asked the questions. After these rhetorical questions, no other action was ever taken by her office.

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Time magazine on Palin’s background:

[Former Mayor John] Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. “She asked the library how she could go about banning books,” he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. “The librarian was aghast.” That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn’t be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving “full support” to the mayor.

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