April 18th, 2009
09:28 AM 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: John McCain • Popular Posts • Sarah Palin
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. James

    My God! They knew everything about her and still picked her? Simply amazing and 100% cynical.

    April 18, 2009 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  2. Rob Koop

    Obviously a question about the "Bush Doctrine" never made it on thier questionnaire...

    April 18, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  3. Dee

    "Me and my..." ???? Geez......

    April 18, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  4. SK

    I had just wished the McCain team 'vetted' her better on how to give a national interview. Who in the world would have thought that the media (specifically Gibson and Couric) was going to truly interview her for the American people.

    April 18, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  5. cell contribber

    "Knocked them out of the park?" Like there are definitive, "correct" answers to those three questions?

    April 18, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  6. Chris

    McCain still "blew it" when he made the final pick. It is really unfathomable that there was no one in the GOP better than Palin. How sad that a once-decent party has gone so far down the tubes.

    April 18, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  7. Sandy Toe

    Our country is already at "risk" from finacially to globally with the all the leaders we have in Washington but we are bias media makes it even worse.

    April 18, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  8. S Yalof

    Thank the good lord we'll never find out wether she would have been a goop Vice President or not. I thing most Americans are very pleased with the current Vice President

    April 18, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  9. Steve

    Exactly! McCain doesn't understand the difference between an intelligent choice, and taking irrational risks. Had he not been so enamored of his own label as a "risk taker" he might have made a thoughtful and wise choice. It bodes well for the country that he was not elected president. Had it been so, we would most probably be engaged in a ground war in Somalia.

    The Republican Party is composed of non-thinking nincompoops who are in the dangerous process of stirring up hate, stupidity, greed, and unthinking, racist support for policies that actually harm the people who come out to rally and support RP candidates. Where are the thoughtful conservatives? The ones who understand that everything needs to be nuanced and common ground cultivated in a flourishing democracy? Nowhere to be found....but rash risk takers and thoughtless dupes and nitwits abound.

    April 18, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  10. MGM Ottawa

    Republicans need help with leadership, at this point in time they seem to be lost in what is going on in the world and what role politics has to play to move capture the masses.
    You will not woe anyone if you do not scrutinize your party's failures and needs carefully and that may require you to change from some of your beliefs because the world has really changed and as time goes by Republicans will be alone and very few. To sum it up all, you had George Bsuh to completely ruin your standing causing everyone to question what benefit this party brings to the nation.
    Sraha Palin is not an answer she is just another problem you have resurrected from Alaska.

    Good luck with your search for a leader who will bring sense to this troubled party.

    Ontario Canada

    April 18, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  11. Nick

    Did the response "you betcha" to any of the three leading questions qualify as an "out of the park" answer?

    April 18, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  12. Felonious Monk

    Culvahouse must be a bigger fool than McCain. After knowing what we know now, and after seeing for our own eyes how she handles herself publicly, how could you ever think she is qualified for any public office?
    The idea that they looked her over and came away "very impressed" is idiotic. I watched her for months and was saddened by what has become of my country.
    She knocked "three" questions out of the ballpark, and struck out every single time after that. These three questions were easy to answer. Bin Laden is just a face, a ghost used to scare the American public.
    What is frightening to me is that the republicans still consider her a contender. What a complete joke this has turned into.

    April 18, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  13. Jeremy

    Q: Are you prepared to use nuclear weapons?
    A: You betcha!

    Q: Why do you want to be vice president?
    A: Oh, gosh, geez, ya know...

    Q: If the CIA located Osama bin Laden, but shooting him would result in civilian casualties, what do you do?
    A: Oh, well, ya know, every Alaskan elk hunter knows that you get a better shot from a helicopter...or as we Alaskans call them, "air machines."

    April 18, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  14. NiceTry

    Thanks McCain for choosing Palin! It made it so easy for me to vote for Obama!

    April 18, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  15. Sumar

    Then take the risk right now and admit you made the biggest mistake of your life when you picked Palin.........I am a democrat but I don't vote party lines I vote for the best person........McCain at one time you had my full support, but when you walked Palin out on stage that's when I thought you were getting to old to make rational discissions, so you lost my vote.......

    April 18, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  16. Bassman

    There was a disconnect between what the media was telling us about John McCain's pick, and what we could see for ourselves. Gov. Palin had given plenty of interviews before her VP announcement to local media, and even C-SPAN about energy issues concerning Alaska. She was clearly knowledgeable in those interviews. Was she a foreign policy wonk? No, of coures not. John McCain had that covered.

    April 18, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  17. Anna

    This hardly seems a serious vetting process: a questionnaire and three leading questions which she "knocked out of the park". This new clarification points even more at a purely strategic choice, where vetting was just a pro forma.

    April 18, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  18. Wayne ( Canada )

    that is McCains philosophy!!! Gamble??? Great attitude for someone who holds the nuclear trigger. Ridiculous!!!!!!!

    April 18, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  19. lamuella

    honestly, after making a pick like this, I wouldn't let Culvahouse pick a restaurant for dinner.

    April 18, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  20. R in Maine

    It was clearly high risk. If the republicans had won, then one of the really disgusting results would have been to have to listen to those fools give her credit for the victory. She is worthless and not qualified to be VP. What a disaster it would have been for her to ever become president. Her ethics are self-serving and lacking in wisdom. She should stay in Alaska where people like that are still accepted because they cannot do so much damage.

    April 18, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  21. Jim

    Let's face it: Palin turned out to be "high risk, no reward". She only appealed to the right-wingers who would have voted Republican anyway, and completely turned off moderates and conservative Democrats who may have voted Republican. Remember, you don't win any converts by preaching to the choir.

    April 18, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  22. iamlemonfresh

    That they're still being asked to explain their choice of Palin seven months later tells me all I need to know about the judgment of the RNC. (And also, sadly, about the sad state of news reporting.)

    April 18, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  23. jim

    I can't put much faith in comments from someone like Culahouse that does not use correct English when speaking. ---"me" is not used when the word " I "is correct.

    April 18, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  24. Had It

    High Risk? Only if you count the hate, divisiveness, racism, and all the other crap she stirs up in people.

    Dangerous mouth on that woman.

    April 18, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  25. Amy Venida

    Absolutely no comment. The events speak eloquently for themselves.

    Amy

    April 18, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
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