(CNN) - John McCain first met Sarah Palin only six months ago and had just one conversation with the Alaska governor before offering her the vice presidential slot on the Republican ticket, the Arizona senator's campaign said Friday.
The move appears to be a marked departure for McCain - a man known for his tendency to surround himself with a close circle of advisers and politicians he has long felt comfortable with.
But according to the McCain campaign, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee first met Palin in Washington at a February 2008 National Governors Association meeting. He was immediately impressed with the 44-year-old rising GOP star, and decided to consider her for the vice presidential slot.
McCain campaign manager Rick Davis had several conversations with Palin throughout the vetting process, but McCain himself didn't speak with the Alaska governor until last Sunday - one day after Barack Obama named Joe Biden to his ticket. It was then McCain reached Palin by phone while she was at the Alaska State Fair to discuss the possibility of joining the ticket.
Palin then traveled to Flagstaff, Arizona Wednesday evening, where she met with top McCain advisers Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter. On Thursday Palin traveled to McCain's Sedona, Arizona home where the Arizona senator had another conversation with her, and formally asked her to be his running mate.
(CNN) – As news broke that Sarah Palin Friday had been selected to join John McCain on the Republican ticket, reactions from others believed to have been on the Arizona senator’s shortlist trickled in, each speaking more glowingly of the Alaska governor than the last.
“A wonderful, terrific, outstanding pick,” said Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty at the Minnesota State Fair Friday morning. Pawlenty was believed to be a longtime frontrunner for the vice presidential slot, but Friday morning told a local radio station that he wasn’t going to Dayton, Ohio where McCain was to unveil his pick.
Fellow frontrunner and former McCain rival Mitt Romney called Palin’s biography “inspiring.”
“She's a Washington outsider with a commitment to the conservative principles that will make our nation stronger,” said Romney in a statement. “I look forward to campaigning for Senator McCain, Governor Palin and Republicans all across the country.”
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee revealed on his Web site on Thursday that the McCain campaign had never asked him for the documents necessary for the vetting process. He praised Palin as a “pleasant surprise” because of her pro-life record and said she was a reminder to women, “that if they are not welcome on the Democrat’s ticket, they have a place with Republicans.”
Florida governor and prominent surrogate Charlie Crist – who appeared to fall off the Arizona Senator’s radar in recent weeks – complimented Palin for her bi-partisan work.
"Senator John McCain has made a great pick in Governor Sarah Palin. She has demonstrated tremendous leadership as the chief executive of her state…” Crist wrote in a short statement released by his office.
All four men will address the Republican convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul next week.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Bush's final GOP convention speech as head of the Republican party will express "gratitude" to his supporters rather than attack Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Friday.
The president is due to deliver his speech Monday at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Perino said it will review "the major issues facing the country, from terrorism and war to the economy and the direction of our culture."
Perino added that in making the case for GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain's qualifications, the speech will reflect "on the role of the presidency and the qualities that are demanded by the job" of commander-in-chief.
"In particular, it highlights McCain's unique judgment, perspective and experience to deal with the unexpected, to stand firm on his convictions, put the country above himself and make hard decisions necessary to protect the American people," Perino said.
Despite less than five months left in President Bush's term, Perino said not to expect the speech to define his legacy.
"This is not an opportunity to recap accomplishments of the past seven and a half years," she said. "It will not serve as a farewell to the American people, and it certainly will not attack Barack Obama."
Asked why, Perino replied, "Because he's got class."
She added, "This president knows better than almost any politician in America what it's like to face criticism. He watched his dad as vice presidential candidate for two terms go through that, and then when his dad ran for president, he saw it again, and then in his own campaigns, the two national
elections. He knows what it's like in high political season, and he's not going to respond to every attack."
(CNN) – The Republican Party will seat a full delegation from the state of Florida, the state party said Friday.
The GOP had stripped Florida and Michigan of half their delegates last year for moving up their 2008 presidential primary, in violation of party rules. The Democratic Party had barred both states' entire delegations from being seated at the party's Denver delegation.
All of the major Democratic candidates had pledged not to advertise or campaign in either state in advance of their January primaries, a step that was not taken by Republicans.
Earlier this week, the Democratic Party voted to seat their own delegations from Florida and Michigan, and give those states full voting rights and privileges.
Under a compromise reached with the Republican National Committee and John McCain's campaign, the state’s 114 delegates and 111 delegates will be seated when the party meets next week in St. Paul. Half the 114 delegates will have full voting rights. Florida Republican Party Chair Jim Greer said the other half will be “’honored guests’ with full delegate rights and privileges” – that do not include traditional voting rights.
John McCain won the Florida primary January 29, a result that helped lead to Rudy Giuliani's exit from the presidential race.
(CNN) – Hillary Clinton praised the historic nature of John McCain's vice presidential selection in a brief statement released Friday that was eagerly anticipated by both presidential campaigns.
“We should all be proud of Governor Sarah Palin's historic nomination, and I congratulate her and Senator McCain," Clinton, the first woman to win a presidential primary, said in the statement. "While their policies would take America in the wrong direction, Governor Palin will add an important new voice to the debate.”
The McCain campaign has made little secret of the fact the selection of Palin - the first woman to appear on a Republican presidential ticket - was in part designed to court supporters of Clinton's White house bid, some of whom feel the New York senator was treated unfairly during the primaries because of her gender and remain wary of supporting Obama.
Palin directly mentioned Clinton by name in her acceptance speech earlier Friday, saying, "Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America. But it turns out the women of America aren't finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all."
Clinton's statement reacting to Palin is markedly different than the Obama campaign's initial reaction which made no mention of the historic nature of the Alaska Republican's VP candidacy - instead painting her as woefully inexperienced to be commander-in-chief. The Obama campaign later released a joint statement from both the Illinois senator and his running mate, Joe Biden, praising Palin for making history.
It remains unclear just how many former Clinton supporters Palin may attract, but California Sen. Barbara Boxer said Friday that McCain is "badly mistaken" if he expects backers of the New York senator to break ranks with the Democratic party because of Palin.
(CNN) – Touring a bio-diesel plant in Monaca, Pennyslvania Friday afternoon, Barack Obama and Joe Biden reacted to news that the opposing ticket is now complete, complimenting McCain for choosing a woman but saying Sarah Palin just mirrors the Arizona senator’s policies.
“I'm sure that she will help make the case for the Republicans,” said Obama to reporters accompanying him on the tour. “Unfortunately, the case is more of the same. And so ultimately John McCain is at top of the ticket.”
“As I indicated in my speech last night, I think that he wants to take the country in the wrong direction,” he added. “I'm assuming Governor Palin agrees with him in his policies.”
Obama called Palin “a compelling person” with a terrific personal story and said that her nomination next week is one more indicator that the country is moving forward.
“I think [it] is one more hit against that glass ceiling and I congratulate her and look forward to a vigorous debate,” said Obama. “I'm pleased with my choice for vice president Joe Biden. I think he's the man who can help me guide this country in a better direction and help working families.”
Biden, the man who is expected to be the ticket’s attack dog, stayed relatively mum.
“I'm looking forward to meeting her,” said the Delaware senator.
Earlier Friday, Obama and Biden put out a positive statement congratulating Palin for breaking down barriers. This shortly after campaign spokesman Bill Burton sent one out blasting McCain for putting, “the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency.”
“You know, campaigns start getting these hair triggers and the statement that Joe and I put out reflects our sentiments,” said Obama.
UPDATE: Obama and Biden separately called Palin Friday afternoon to congratulate her on the VP nod, the Obama campaign says. Obama told her she’d be a terrific candidate and that he looked forwarded to the Fall campaign. He wished her luck but not too much, said senior advisor Robert Gibbs.
Minutes later, Biden called and talked with Palin about the shared experience of joining their respective tickets. He said he looked forward to meeting and getting to know her.
(CNN)—California Senator Barbara Boxer said Friday John McCain is “badly mistaken” if he thinks picking Sarah Palin as his running mate will win over Hillary Clinton’s supporters.
“The vice president is a heartbeat away from becoming president,” Boxer said in a statement. “So to choose someone with not one hour's worth of experience on national issues is a dangerous choice.”
“The only similarity between [Palin] and Hillary Clinton is that they are both women,” The California senator adds. “On the issues, they could not be further apart.”
Palin, the Republican governor of Alaska, made a direct appeal to Clinton’s supporters Friday during the vice presidential announcement, echoing the New York senator’s withdrawal speech.
“It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary Clinton left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceilings in American,” Palin told the crowd in Dayton, Ohio. “But, it turns out that the women of America aren’t finished yet, and we can still shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.”
Watch: Palin makes appeal to country and Clinton supporters
In June, Clinton made an appeal to her own supporters urging them to back Obama and continue to keep the faith.
“Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, its got about 18 million cracks in it,” Clinton said.
Boxer pointed to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison as Senator Olympia Snowe as more fitting choices if McCain was interested in putting a woman on his ticket, “compared to this dangerous choice.”
Update: McCain campaign aid Jill Hazelbaker released the following statement:
"It is pretty audacious for the Obama campaign to say that Governor Palin is not qualified to be Vice President. She has a record of accomplishment that Senator Obama simply cannot match. Governor Palin has spent her time in office shaking up government in Alaska and actually achieving results - whether it’s taking on corruption, passing ethics reform or stopping wasteful spending and the ‘bridge to nowhere.’ Senator Obama has spent his time in office running for President."
(CNN) - The White House is "energized" over John McCain's pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for the No.2 spot on the Republican presidential ticket, White House press secretary Dana Perino told reporters Friday.
Perino also said President Bush phoned Palin earlier Friday morning to congratulate the Alaska Republican for being selected for the position.
President Bush believes the McCain-Palin ticket is "very strong," and he looks forward to a "great victory in November," Perino also said.
John McCain's selection of a running mate represents the first one I can remember that has brought smiles to activists on both sides of the aisle.
Among conservatives, one hears nothing but praise for Governor Sarah Palin - she is strongly pro-life, a long-time member of the NRA, a fiscal hawk, and an interesting combination of charm and toughness. She helps to bring the party back to its conservative roots. With the commitments that McCain made at Saddleback that he would run a pro-life administration, social conservatives - especially evangelicals - can now rally to the McCain-Palin ticket with genuine enthusiasm. McCain seemingly is helping to close the enthusiasm gap on his side.
Yet among Democrats, there is lots of positive acclaim as well. From their perspective, the one argument that McCain has used so effectively against them is that we live in a highly dangerous world - he repeatedly calls terrorism "the transcendent issue of our times" - and Barack Obama has so little national security experience that he represents too much of a risk. Now, say the Dems, here we have a 72-year-old candidate - the oldest to ever seek the office for the first time - and he has asked someone to be a heartbeat away from the presidency who has no national security experience at all - none, nada. Democrats think McCain has completely undercut his strongest argument. They are also relieved that he didn't choose Mitt Romney, who brings a lot of economic understanding and would have been helpful in a big battleground state like Michigan.
So, smiles on both sides. What is uncertain is how uncommitted voters will respond - especially women who might have voted for Hillary Clinton. Clearly, the GOP is betting that Sarah Palin can bring them back. Are they right? Meanwhile, Democrats have told me that a lot of Clinton women will be shooed away by Palin's conservatism - and some will even be insulted. Are they right?
Would love your thoughts.
Read other reaction from Paul Begala and Ed Rollins
(CNN) – A leading House Democrat said Friday John McCain's choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is a "risky" move that could ultimately prove disastrous to the Republican prospects in November.
Meanwhile, a top Senate Democrat said the pick is a "Hail Mary pass" and a "roll of the dice," in what is the initial reactions from McCain's rival party.
Watch: Palin accepts VP offer
Speaking to South Carolina ETV Radio, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn likened the choice of Palin to Walter Mondale's choice of Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and George H.W. Bush's pick of Dan Quayle in 1988. Both picks - relatively unknown political figures at the time - generated initial excitement but were ultimately deemed poor choices by many political observers.
"I think (her selection) would be something similar to Dan Quayle - Dan Quayle proved to be sort of an embarrassment as a campaigner, being thrust on a national stage like that could be very tough," Clyburn said. "Now Mondale tried to shake things up by going with Geraldine Ferraro, she proved to be a disaster as a running mate. And as a campaigner, she was absolutely awful."
"And so I just think that it is very risky for McCain to do this, but it may be all he has left," Clyburn also said.
In an issued statement, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Palin is significantly mismatched to Democratic VP candidate Joe Biden and said the prospect of her becoming president is "troubling."
"It is a real role of the dice and shows how John McCain, Karl Rove et al realize what a strong position the Obama-Biden team and Democrats in general are in in this election," Schumer said. "Certainly the choice of Palin puts to rest any argument about inexperience on the Democratic team and while Palin is a fine person, her lack of experience makes the thought of her assuming the presidency troubling. I particularly look forward to the Biden-Palin debate in Missouri.”
The Obama campaign also told CNN Friday the choice of Palin takes the question of experience "off the table."
"Experience is being taken off the table considering you're putting someone within a heartbeat of the presidency with the thinnest foreign policy experience in history," spokesman Bill Burton said.
Update: Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the 4th ranking House Democrat, said in a statement the choice of Palin "shows political panic."
"Is this really who the Republican Party wants to be one heartbeat away from the Presidency? Given Sarah Palin's lack of experience on every front and on nearly every issue, this Vice Presidential pick doesn't show judgment: it shows political panic," he said.