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CNN's Campbell Brown to McCain campaign: "Free Sarah Palin!"

September 24, 2008 |  3:10 am

Campbell Brown, the CNN anchor whose confrontational on-air interview with a John McCain spokesman earlier this month raised eyebrows and caused the candidate to cancel a session with Larry King, delivered a blistering editorial Tuesday in which she accused the McCain campaign of sexist treatment of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

"Bear with me for a short rant," Brown began, before demanding that the McCain campaign free Palin "from the chauvinistic chains you're binding her with." Brown said the way the campaign has limited reporters' access to Palin -- the Republican vice presidential candidate has yet to hold a news conference -- was evidence of paternalism and chauvinism.

"Tonight, I call on the McCain campaign to stop treating Sarah Palin like she is a delicate flower that will wilt at any moment. ... By treating Sarah Palin different from the other candidates in this race, you're not showing her the respect she deserves."

When asked to respond to Brown's biting critique Tuesday evening, McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers had no comment.

Brown delivered her tirade just hours after some McCain campaign aides tried to ban reporters from covering Palin's much-touted meetings in New York with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Here's The Ticket's report from Tuesday.

Brown addressed the controversy on her show, CNN's "Election Central," and called on the campaign to allow Palin to "show her stuff."

"Allow her to face down those pesky reporters, just like Barack Obama did today, just like John McCain did today, just like Joe Biden has done on numerous occasions," Brown said.

The anchor said she thinks Palin can hold her own against tough-minded reporters. "This woman is from Alaska, for crying out loud," she said. "She is strong. She is tough. She is confident. And you claim she's ready to be one heartbeat away from the presidency. If that is the case, then end this chauvinistic treatment of her now."

It's too soon to tell whether Brown will suffer repercussions for her comments. In early September, after the anchor clashed with McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds over Sarah Palin's foreign policy credentials, the campaign canceled McCain's planned interview with Larry King, whose show ...

... also broadcasts on CNN. At the time, aides complained that Brown had gone "over the line" in her grilling of Bounds.

Here's a complete transcript of Brown's comments on Tuesday, courtesy of CNN:

"But, first, bear with me for a short rant on another subject, because, frankly, I have had it. And I know a lot of other women out there are with me on this. I have had enough of the sexist treatment of Sarah Palin. It has to end.

"She was here in New York City today meeting with world leaders at the U.N. And what did the McCain campaign do? They tried to ban reporters from covering those meetings. And they did ban reporters from asking Gov. Palin any questions.

"Tonight, I call on the McCain campaign to stop treating Sarah Palin like she is a delicate flower that will wilt at any moment. This woman is from Alaska, for crying out loud. She is strong. She is tough. She is confident. And you claim she's ready to be one heartbeat away from the presidency. If that is the case, then end this chauvinistic treatment of her now. Allow her to show her stuff. Allow her to face down those pesky reporters, just like Barack Obama did today, just like John McCain did today, just like Joe Biden has done on numerous occasions. Let her have a real news conference with real questions.

"By treating Sarah Palin different from the other candidates in this race, you're not showing her the respect she deserves. Free Sarah Palin. Free her from the chauvinistic chains you're binding her with. Sexism in this campaign must come to an end. Sarah Palin has just as much a right to be a real candidate in this race as the men do. So, let her act like one. We're going to have more on Palin's cloistered day coming up in just a moment."

-- Kate Linthicum

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