Palin prepares for speech of her life at convention as McCain camp derides ‘faux media scandal’

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) âÄî Sarah Palin prepared for the speech of her life Wednesday as John McCain’s campaign called for an end to questions about its review of her background and derided a “faux media scandal designed to destroy the first female Republican nominee” for vice president. As GOP leaders lined up to defend her, the first-term Alaska governor took a tour of the Xcel Energy Center stage where she will accept the No. 2 nomination. A few hours later, she and her family met McCain on an airport tarmac as he arrived in the convention city. The Arizona senator’s campaign set the tone for the day early with a written statement that stood out for its admission that Palin is under siege âÄî it condemned “this vetting controversy” âÄî and for its attempt to blunt questions about how rigorously McCain and his campaign explored the background of a candidate who may get the nation’s second most powerful job. It also suggested that Palin is a victim of gender bias in the media “This nonsense is over,” senior campaign adviser Steve Schmidt declared in the statement, lashing out at “the old boys’ network” that he says runs media organizations. “The McCain campaign will have no further comment about our long and thorough process,” Schmidt said. With a quickly arranged news conference and a fresh television ad, McCain’s team also sought to counter Democratic criticism that the first-term Alaska governor is too inexperienced to be president âÄî the same argument the soon-to-be GOP nominee and his Republicans have used against Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. The efforts indicated advisers are concerned the criticism may be taking a toll on her image.