“Game Change.” the just-released book on the 2008 campaign, portrays the vetting of [Sarah] Palin as “hasty and haphazard” and reports that McCain’s campaign didn’t speak with the former governor’s husband, political allies or enemies or even send anybody to Alaska to look into her background until after she was selected.
Asked on NBC’s “Today” show if the book was fair in its assessment, McCain responded: “I wouldn’t know.”
Pressed by host Matt Lauer how the GOP presidential nominee wouldn’t know about the vetting of his own running mate, McCain said: “I wouldn’t know what the sources are or care.”
Instead of addressing the charges in the book, the senator repeatedly said he was “proud” of Palin and his campaign — the same refrain he’s kept up since he lost the election as Republicans and even some top members of his own campaign team have criticized the polarizing former governor.
But Lauer didn’t drop the issue and. in continuing to ask McCain about Palin, drew a flash of the senator’s famous temper.
He did say, though, that he would “always be grateful for having her as my running mate and the support we got from millions of Americans.”
In their new book, authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann reveal that some of McCain’s top campaign advisers had second thoughts about Palin even before the campaign ended.
McCain and his advisers spent just five days vetting Palin, according to the book, ultimately putting together a 42-page report on her in a matter of just 40 hours.
And on Sunday, McCain’s former top campaign aide, Steve Schmidt, went on national television with his long-held concerns about Palin, saying on CBS’s “60 Minutes” that she had problems with the truth and was uninformed on major policy issues.
Asked if he was “disappointed” by Schmidt’s public attacks on Palin, McCain said that he was “proud of everybody in my campaign.”
(Video at POLITICO link above)
From Anchorage Daily News:
Some more interesting tidbits on Sarah Palin from the book, “Game Change.”
When Palin met McCain, the team that was vetting her had been doing so for just five days, “less investigation than a potential assistant secretary of agriculture would receive.” McCain’s advisers, Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter, weren’t “poking and prodding to find every possible weakness in Palin,” the authors note. “They didn’t explore her preparedness to be vice president. They assumed she knew as much as the average governor, and that what she didn’t know, she would pick up on the fly. They weren’t searching for problems. They were looking for a last-second solution.”
[I]n judging Palin, they were relying on vetting “so hasty and haphazard it barely merited the name. No one had interviewed her husband. No on had spoken to her political enemies. No vetters had descended up Alaska…Palin’s life still was a mystery to McCainworld. And she was still a stranger to McCain.”
McCain, though, saw himself in Palin in her “outsider’s courage” and the “willingness to piss all over her party. “He loved that she’d taken on that pork-barreler Ted Stevens, whom he despised.”
But according to the authors, when President George W. Bush heard of McCain’s pick (on a TV in the basement of the West Wing), he at first thought it was Tim Pawlenty. “But then he realized that the name was Palin, and he was completely baffled. (Where did that come from?)“
Vice President Dick Cheney “had a harsher reaction,” the authors write. “Palin was woefully unprepared, and McCain had made a ‘reckless choice,’ Cheney told his friends.”
At McCain HQ, a white board was set up with a list of controversies the press was exploring…The campaign quickly discovered that consulting her about any issue on the board inevitably yielded a sanitized version of reality.”
Palin had pledged “to banish Alaska temporarily from her thoughts and concentrate on the task at hand.” But she and her husband, Todd, were “fixated on her reputation in the state,” the authors report. [...] Sarah voiced so much anxiety over her gubernatorial approval ratings that Schmidt promised to commission a poll in Alaska to prove her fears were groundless.” (That poll was later scrapped.)
Palin had “substantial deficiencies,” the authors report, and her “grasp of rudimentary facts and concepts was minimal.”
“Asked who attacked America on 9/11, she suggested several times that it was Saddam Hussein. Asked to identify the enemy that her son would be fighting in Iraq, she drew a blank. (Palin’s horrified advisers provided her with scripted replies, which she memorized.)
As she got to work on preparing for her debate with Joe Biden, Palin’s “bandwith was constricted; her road show was becoming a traveling circus-cum-soap opera.
The debate preparations were going so badly that McCain suggested they move them to Sedona, and called in Sen. Joe Lieberman, the former Democratic vice presidential candidate, to help out. “The situation was wildly unconventional already: a Democratic senator being imported into a top-secret lockdown to assist a Republican vice-presidential candidate whose mental stability was in question.”
Palin herself had “lost faith in McCainworld. She felt belittled and lectured to by the senior staff; whenever an aide told her Schmidt was waiting to talk to her on the phone, Palin’s reflexive reaction was, ‘Do I have to?’”
Many of McCain’s closest advisers believed that if he were to win the presidency, it was essential that Palin “be relegated to the largely ceremonial role that premodern vice presidents inhabited…some in McCainworld were ridden with guilt over elevating Palin to within striking distance of the White House.”
The Obama team had the same sense, the authors report. One adviser leading a focus group with swing voters watched as a swing voter “let loose with a string of not-unfamiliar broadsides against Obama,” including raising questions about whether he is Muslim or born in the United States.
The adviser was confused, the authors report. “If you think all these terrible things about Obama, he asked the woman, how can you possibly be undecided?” Her response: “Because if McCain dies, Palin would be president.”