Palin’s Secret Service code name likely not Schaffer’s favorite

When Sarah Palin picked “Denali” as her Secret Service code name, was she subtly mocking Bob Schaffer?

Denali — the name of North America’s tallest peak, also known as Mt. McKinley — is a natural nickname for the Alaska governor, whose husband, Todd, is known as “Driller” to his protectors. But it could irritate Colorado’s Republican Senate candidate, whose first TV ad had to be pulled because it featured a prominent photo of Alaska’s Denali as Schaffer extolled his fondness for Colorado’s Pikes Peak.

Schaffer has dutifully appeared at McCain rallies but was nearly shouted off the stage Saturday in Colorado Springs when he attempted to stall the crowd as McCain and Palin were delayed in traffic. And this is how Palin rewards him, by picking at a sore spot, albeit one of the lighter scandals besetting the Senate candidate?

Here’s Schaffer’s first ad, which premiered in May on Grand Junction and Colorado Springs TV stations:

“Colorado is my life,” Schaffer says. “I proposed to Maureen on top of Pikes Peak.” That would be Colorado’s famous hunk of granite, not the one pictured at the end of his advertisement. (Hint: that massive body of water at the foot of Denali should be a tip-off that the photo wasn’t taken in arid Colorado.)

After a gleeful drubbing on blogs and in the press, the Schaffer campaign blamed an errant media consultant and hastily replaced the ad with one that pictured the right mountain:

The Secret Service’s other nicknames appear to leave Schaffer’s bumbles alone. As The Trail notes:

The names aren’t exactly state secrets; although the Secret Service doesn’t advertise them, the names are generally symbolic, with the service relying on more sophisticated methods to safeguard protectees. McCain is “Phoenix” and his wife Cindy is “Parasol.” Sen. Barack Obama is codenamed “Renegade,” while his wife, Michelle — in keeping with the theme of selecting code names for spouses that begin with the same letter — is “Renaissance.”

Sen. Joe Biden’s handle remains unknown, though he has joked he’s so boring it could just be plain old “Joe.”

Marc Ambinder tracks down Plain Old Joe’s official nom de securite: Celtic.

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Ernest Luning

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