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GOP CHIPPED IN $150,000 TO SHOP, BABY, SHOP

Sarah Palin, the Joe Six-pack champion, got a six-figure wardrobe courtesy of the party.
Published Oct. 23, 2008

Who knew looking like a hockey mom was this darned expensive?

The Republican Party has spent $150,000 on clothes, hairstyling and accessories for Sarah Palin and her family from such upscale stores as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, according to Politico.com.

Palin introduced herself at the GOP convention - in what's been widely reported to be a $2,500 Valentino jacket - as a "regular hockey mom," and boasted of having saved Alaska's taxpayers "over-the-top" expenditures like her luxury jet, her personal chef, even the ride to work.

The average U.S. household spent $1,874 on clothes and services in 2006, the last year for which figures are available from the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Palin's detractors had a field day with the revelations: a $75,062 shopping spree at Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, one for $49,425 from Saks Fifth Avenue, $4,902 at Atelier, a stylish men's store, and even a $92 romper and matching hat with ears for baby Trig at Pacifier, a Minneapolis baby store.

The Republican National Committee said the clothes belong to the committee, while John McCain's campaign said the clothing would go to a "charitable purpose" after the campaign. It also criticized the media attention.

"With all of the important issues facing the country right now, it's remarkable that we're spending time talking about pantsuits and blouses," said McCain spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt.

If Palin's $2,500 Valentino jacket seems expensive, consider that Barack Obama wears Hart Schaffner Marx suits that retail for about $1,500. John McCain regularly wears $520 Salvatore Ferragamo loafers, while Vanity Fair editors estimated that one outfit worn by Cindy McCain cost $313,100, including diamond earrings and pearl necklace.

Obama's campaign said it paid for hair and makeup costs associated with interviews or events, but that neither the campaign nor the Democratic National Committee paid for clothing.

Most expenses for Palin were initially incurred by Jeff Larson, a Republican consultant who was the CEO of the host committee for the convention. Larson's office referred calls to the RNC.