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. Chad

    Wow! If she made it to the top six of the GOP choices then they are screwed for the future.

    April 18, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  2. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    "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."

    ME AND TWO OF MY ..... ???

    Another dolt for Palin....

    April 18, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  3. carol

    Once again, not so tough questions asked of Palin.........

    April 18, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  4. Louis

    They forgot to ask what newspapers she reads.

    April 18, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  5. Obama - NOPE

    Palin is great. She may never be the Presidential nominee, but she will always be around to help bring America back to its' senses. The era of Obama's socialism and anti-americanism will be a long four years, but hopefully, only four years.

    April 18, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  6. Alexander

    So they knew all about Palin going in, yet she STILL managed to prove an embarassment to McCain's campaign? I realize that this is supposed to sound better, that there really WAS a vetting process that she passed, but honestly it makes it sound worse.

    April 18, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  7. Kim Jay

    I'm really comforted to know that someone with your grasp of grammar and obvious intellectual acumen was charged with choosing a running mate. (See "Me and two of my most cynical partners interviewed her...")

    April 18, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  8. Para

    Palin would have made a great vice president. Look at our country now with all these experienced politicians running it. We needed somebody from outside the beltway!

    April 18, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  9. Bob

    Culvahouse is much like Palin, "Me and", Both do not know proper English.

    April 18, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  10. Andre

    McCain thinks it is OK to be a risktaker and be president of USA in one time??? We should be lucky the american people are wiser. And what an idiotic questions as a test. And the civilian casualties of course were to be of Pakistan origin and not from USA. This while all atacks on US soil came from within and thus are more likely to fall victim when counter measures need to be taken.

    April 18, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  11. Quarterback

    Maybe now the GOP understands that not all people are sheep who vote for who the rich tell them to vote for.

    With these types of candidates, the GOP will be irrelevant for a hundrend years.

    April 18, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  12. dj

    Even a risk-taker should know the concept of unacceptable risk. When she turned out to be an idiot I'm sure he finally learned that concept. Then he got to learn it over and over again as she showed she was unmanageable and not a team player. Too bad, John; I liked you but hated the ticket.

    April 18, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  13. Minnesotan

    Too bad they didn't ask her if she ever read the paper, was aware of current events, knew where Russia was or if she enjoyed lying about her expenses so she could gouge the state coffers. Thanks, Republicans, for bringing 'Trailer Trash' Palin into the spotlight. She's just 'so darned' funny every time she opens her mouth.

    April 18, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  14. ron sorenson

    the good news is that she is able to keep an eye on Russia which she would not have been able to do if elected- The Republicans picked two wrong candidates and we now have a man of slick tongue running the country – I hope action speaks stronger than words- what a mess-

    April 18, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  15. Big John

    He obviously didn't know how stupid she is... but no matter, we have a great president as a result. There's always 2012...run, Sarah, run!

    April 18, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  16. Chad D.

    I don't understand why the McCain campaign felt as though they needed to chose a "high risk; high reward" VP candidate such as Palin. When McCain announced his VP choice in late August he was only trailing by a couple of points in most polls and had taken a small lead in a few others, closing a sizable gap after the primaries. For the first time his campaign had gained real traction, and as a Obama supporter; was making me very nervous. Although McCain received a temporary bump in the polls after chosing Palin, chosing her was a very unnecessary risk, and probably cost him the election.

    April 18, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  17. People's Voice

    She is all risk and all talk.

    April 18, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  18. Walter

    Wow, they knew all of that about her and still picked her!

    This is the kind of thinking that will keep the Republican's in the minority until they get over it. Sarah Palin still appeals to these guys, but to the rest of America she is a punchline.

    April 18, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  19. John Sturgis, SD

    Risk...McCain and the GOP felt that risk is what the US needed at a time when America was on every nations sh_t list. Presidential candidates must have a solid academic record before being allowed to run for any political office. We don't need D- academics running our nation...that was what McCain and Palin had in common, they're both dim bulbs of academia.

    April 18, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  20. keith w

    I am glad that McCain picked such stellar intellectuals to conduct the vetting.

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

    All I can say is, I am not impressed. Mr. Culvahouse, go back to elementary school and try to pick up a little grammer this time.

    Apparently, if people of that caliber are doing the vetting, we get people like Sarah Palin as nominees.

    April 18, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  21. NMDave

    OK, if she was vetted what was the "high risk"?

    April 18, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  22. Don

    Who even knew Sara Palin existed prior to the Rebugs Campaign.

    If the news media would drop her she would fade into the world of "old news" and be forgotten. But, alas, the media gurus need something to keep ratings and this small town person is just the ticket.

    What a side show she is.

    April 18, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  23. td

    Palin beleives that the signs in the suns, and the moons, and the stars should be imminent.

    April 18, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  24. Keith Siegel

    A.B. Culvahouse came away impressed with Sarah Palin? Seriously? And what does "knocked those three questions out of the park" mean to him? Let me see if I can answer them:

    1. I would be prepared to use nuclear weapons if a threat was imminent and was capable of MD but I'd first want to understand what our conventional options would include to deliver a comprehensive and over powering blow to the enemy.

    2. I would take out Osama Bin Laden and if it meant collateral damage, I wouldn't hesitate- however I would be prepared to compensate such victims and their families.

    3. I want to be VP because I feel that I have the skills, abilities and knowledge to effectively transform the VP role (with the approval of the President) into a more progressive and valuable vice presidency.

    Makes me question Culvahouse's vetting skills and reinforces my views about McCain as the Presidential candidate (which I initially supported). While I am pleased McCain remains in the Senate, I am thankful Obama is our President.

    April 18, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  25. Hans Brecker, Albany NY

    She is the ONLY reason McCain got as many votes as he did.......Without her I wouldn't have voted for McCain............he is a pure RINO............She actually has beliefs and sticks to them....whether YOU like it or not.............

    April 18, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
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