April 17th, 2009
08:23 PM ET
5 years ago

Palin as VP pick: 'high risk, high reward'

A.B. Culvahouse said Palin would have 'made a great vice president.'
A.B. Culvahouse said Palin would have 'made a great vice president.'

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A.B. Culvahouse, the attorney tasked with leading the vetting process for Republican presidential nominee John McCain's running mate, said Friday that he thoroughly scrutinized Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and said that he "came away impressed."

McCain's vetting process came under scrutiny after numerous surprises about Palin popped up in the weeks after she was tapped as his vice presidential pick. Culvahouse said he and his team of 30 lawyers knew everything, including the fact that her teenage daughter was pregnant. He suggested that the campaign staff that talked to the media may not have been fully informed, which "led to the impression that those issues had been withheld."

"Gov. Palin told us everything. Everything except the pregnancy of her daughter was on a response to the written questionnaire," Culvahouse said Friday at a Republican National Lawyers Association National Policy Conference. "She told me there was one issue she wanted to talk about when we went in for the interview. We knew everything going in."

Culvahouse said they started with 26 candidates who didn't know they were under consideration. Once the list was narrowed down to six, each person was given a survey with 74 questions, which he said included specific questions, like "have you ever been unfaithful," but not "what the meaning of is, is."

"Me and two of my most cynical partners interviewed her and we came away impressed," Culvahouse said of his interview with Palin. "I think she would've made a great vice president."

He said he gave her three "leading" questions, asking if she was prepared to use nuclear weapons, why she wanted to be vice president, and if the CIA located Osama bin Laden, but shooting him would result in civilian casualties, what would she do. Culvahouse said she "knocked those three questions out of the park."

Culvahouse said McCain was the "decider," but that he was not allowed to pick anyone that had not been vetted. But when McCain asked him for the "bottom line" on Palin, Culvahouse said the Republican nominee liked the "risk" involved.

"I said, John, high risk, high reward," Culvahouse said. "His response, you shouldn't have told me that. I've been a risk-taker all my life."


Filed under: Extra • John McCain • Sarah Palin
soundoff (270 Responses)
  1. Independent Voter

    WHATEVER!!

    God Bless President Obama, VP Biden, the First Families and "Bo"

    April 17, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  2. Toni - Atlanta

    I have a great deal of respect for Senator McCain, but I strongly believe he regrets opening that can of worms...

    April 17, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  3. Arkay, MI

    Me and two of my most cynical partners interviewed her and we came away impressed," Culvahouse said

    Looks like these guys are easily impressed.

    April 17, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  4. Sen. McCain

    To be fair, my only chance would have been to pick Barack.

    April 17, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. D.Tin

    We knew McCain gambled with Palin, high risk for him and big reward for her. No fool like an old fool who gambles...

    April 17, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  6. carlo

    After all of this, he STILL won't admit that she was a bad choice. Wow.

    April 17, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    She was the worst VP pick I've seen in my lifetime. If she was properly vetted, I guess McCain was cool with the fact that the Palin's wanted Alaska to secede from the union. Besides for Keating 5, Sarah Palin was the worst political move made by John McCain.

    April 17, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  8. Lee-- Dallas, TX

    Was this article supposed to bring reassurance...? Because now after reading the last few lines; I feel a little sicker– maybe it was my lunch; but I doubt it.

    April 17, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  9. Biff Biffington

    more like High Risk "NO" reward...

    April 17, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  10. No Incumbents 2010

    Is Culvahouse on Palin's payroll? or just defending his handiwork? Did Culvahouse "vet" her foreign policy expertise/experience? Did he vet her policy position on sex education and contraceptives? Or was he just mesmerized by a beauty queen? I guess Culverhouse was right....Palin was the MOST qualified VP candidate McCain could have chosen.

    April 17, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  11. PhillyGuy

    Yeah, thurough. How about her son causing $30,000 in vandalism? Her husband being a secessionist and terrorist? Her ties to that goofy church. I am sure they knew everything.

    April 17, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    PLease...we would have had foreign governments trying to assassinate McTaint just so the moron would have the "football." Besides, the guy who vetted and picked her for McCain is defending his decision? Big whoop! Of course he is!

    April 17, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  13. Dan

    Stop these articles! BTW William Kristol is the one Advertized the bimbo. Come on!! They didn't vet Sarah....if so, why did they try to hide her from the Public by not allowing her to speak! P

    Last Night – Sarah was in her element – but of course she had to go divisive again which had nothing to do with the dinner. Sarah would be good at FoxNews or some other talk host series and that's it.

    She's a mess! and Last Night proved it once again!

    April 17, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  14. Ameria in Georgia

    Plain was high risk alright. She was the most horrible person they could have picked. She and her family would have been the talk of the free world and I don't mean good conversations.
    What the Republicans did not understand was Palin, for all of her speech delivery ability, when someone else writes the speech, is not the kind of person that people in this country want to represent them. Dysfunction is part of life in this country but Palin spelled dysfunction with a capital D. If they went with her thinking that she would pull Hillary Clinton women they were very wrong. Palin was and still is the woman who represents chauvinistic men. She appeals to men and not strong, educated women. She is a throw back to the 1950's and that is where she belongs.

    April 17, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  15. Get Well Soon GOP

    If he says this bimbo was vetted then perhaps she was. But why then would you knowlingly pick a women who cannot talk, with a illigit grand son, or no passport? Why would you do that. Look, I am a Dem but I would have voted for McCain if he did not pick Palin. Obama does not have the credentials to be president. But with a choice between Palin or Obama I had to go with him. McCain did this to us.

    April 17, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  16. Sandy

    Laughable! She would NOT "have made a great vice president." The very thought of that woman sitting a heartbeat away from the presidency was a scary thought. And why she (and McCain) didn't win. She made it obvious she was not qualified, and it was obvious that McCain's camp did not vet her properly – despite the happy face they are trying to put on it now. If they did "know everything" as McCain now seems to be claiming, then he is bigger fool than we previously though.

    April 17, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  17. Get Well Soon GOP

    If not for Palin I would have voted for McCain.

    April 17, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  18. Richard L

    It's surprising that anyone would claim that they had vetted Palin.

    April 17, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  19. Marcus Tate

    She might have "knocked the questions out of the park" about Bin Laden, nukes, and why she wanted to be vice president – guess she just couldn't handle the hard ones, like what book and newspapers she read, or what the Bush Doctrine was. Palin is a joke – and frankly, we all wish the media would just let it go, let her go out of the news, and stop these ridiculous stories.

    April 17, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  20. Brad

    Stunning! Maybe McCain should have vetted his vetters. I wonder whether there were any questions during the interview that asked her why she thought she was qualified to be one heart beat from the presidency, what the Bush Doctrine is, where she gets her news, etc. When Katie C asked her the tough questions, she didn't have an answer. My bet is they quizzed her on all the socially conservative talking points and nothing else. Big mistake.

    April 17, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  21. I can see Canada from my house!

    And what is our reward?

    *cue crickets*

    We are deluged by reporting of her dysfunctional family, her vindictive management style and an intellect that froze up by the age of 12. Did we really deserve this?

    April 17, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  22. Pacifist

    Having Palin in office would've set off WWIII, civil wars, and war between church and state as she would've no doubtedly, tried to implement her conservative right wing ways into every American household. We would've been taking a step back in time. She's an idiot.

    April 17, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  23. Mike L

    Old A.B. would not be my choice in vetting candidates. Palin cost McCain the election, along with his plodding old school image and mentality. Whoever thought she was the best running mate was clueless. Is A.B. a Democrat plant in the Republican party?

    April 17, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  24. arithmetic is liberal

    "Gov. Palin told us everything. Everything except the pregnancy of her daughter was on a response to the written questionnaire," Culvahouse said Friday at a Republican National Lawyers Association National Policy Conference.

    Now why would she fail to mention a little thing like that?

    The reverse engineered marketting on that pregnancy was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. They actually sold a bunch of Baptists on supporting a single unwed mother.

    April 17, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  25. Sheppy

    I don't see what the reward was!

    April 17, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
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