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. Rumsfeld

    Not surprised. This is a true indication of the split in this country; intellectual, ideological, spiritual and political.

    April 18, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  2. JonDie

    Weakest, most unqualified vice-presidential candidate in history. Shows you how low the average IQ of an American is...very, very low.

    April 18, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  3. Kathy S. Cloughn

    What a nightmare she has been. Yes, the ultra right loves her but the rest of the Republicans will head for the hills or create a new party.

    April 18, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  4. virginia nielsen

    She would be a great president in Russia !!! Give me a brake !!! Is she still around ? OBAMA 2012 !!!

    April 18, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  5. BaRock says

    much like stocks, high risk can also result in high loss. as we all knew the palin pick was a stunt.

    April 18, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  6. S Callahan

    I'm joining the working parties line if she is put on the ballot ....numbers mean nothing in the end if it only bring calmanity.

    April 18, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  7. Rob

    Wow – I think even less of the McCain team if they actually knew everything about Palin and still went ahead with her – what a train wreck.

    I sure hope no Republican ever has any of those folks on their team or they are doomed because if they think they can win by appealing only the Far Right of the Party – they are very mistaken...

    April 18, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  8. Jeff

    Wow. This guy can't even speak proper English, and can't give an explanation for their VP pick without throwing in a partisan jab. No wonder McCain/Palin lost. He thinks he's building his credibility by stating that they knew everything going in. That just goes to show what poor judgment you have. Say whatever you want to defend yourself, but the people made their choice and the verdict is in. You chose poorly.

    April 18, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  9. Gambi

    With the 3 deciding questions you asked Palin I and a gazillion other Americans could have knocked you out of the Ball Park!!!
    Being the Vice President of the United States AIN"T THAT SIMPLE!
    Come on, how rude of you to have sold America so short. Rsk/Reward ???? You got what you deserved in the election.

    April 18, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. russell lee

    she's nonsensical at best

    April 18, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  11. California Gold

    Well Culvahouse has insured he will never be hired. I can't believe he is broadcasting that "...he thoroughly scrutinized Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and said that he "came away impressed." He made the biggest blunder of his career with Palin. Was he still dazzled after the Katie Couric interview where his impressive Palin couldn't even answer what newspaper she reads? How about Palin couldn't even think of a Supreme Court case, other than Roe v. Wade, when everyone else well remembers the Exxon Valdez and it's famous Alaska oil spill and Supreme Court case. I still think she was a default candidate. No one else would accept the VP slot, but Palin's ego was big enough to grab it.

    April 18, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  12. Tim

    Palin was the best decision they made, precisely because it allowed us to elect the best candidate for president.

    April 18, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  13. Bethie in TX

    We lefties don't hate Palin–in fact, we love her! She helped get Obama elected when thinking voters saw her incompetence first-hand (granted, we didn't get too many opportunities since the McCain campaign shielded her from the press).

    Thanks, McCain! Your gamble was our big win!!!

    April 18, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  14. Hunter

    This say a Lot about the Republican mentality, even in their lawyers. My God, they still picked her after the vetting process... I'd love to actually read the answers to the 3 questions that "She hit them out of the park."

    McCain lost my vote when he picked Palin and now I'm glad he did pick her, because otherwise he might have won. I now understand how he would not have made a very good president in today's times.

    April 18, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  15. RanDe

    The only risk here was to Gov. Palin's aspirations. teaming up with a candidate whose campaign was in complete disarray that had no clear message or platform was McCain's nemesis. if John McCain had just stuck to his guns portray the real McCain instead of the McCain his campaign managers wanted to protray, and had come out against the bailout especially once it came out loaded with so much pork, John McCain may very well be president today.
    The way John McCain allowed him and his his campaign to to be "managed", not even Jesus Christ joining the ticket, could of got him elected.

    April 18, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  16. so next time different people will choose

    because these guys who selected Palin completely blew it

    another bunch of fresh people needs to choose for the GOP next time

    April 18, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  17. Palin as a punch line never gets old

    it is because she spews such hate from her mouth

    April 18, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  18. JFK

    If she runs in 2012, then it must be really the end of the world!

    April 18, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  19. rpc

    If it took him this long to come up with why he chose her, then that speaks for itself.

    April 18, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  20. Dave

    They asked her why she wanted to be Vice-President, but they forgot to ask her if she knew what the role of the Vice-President is. Brilliant.

    April 18, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  21. Bethie in TX

    Bassman writes: "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."

    But McCain is 73 years old. He needed to pick someone with a broader range of experiences to help us feel comfortable with the ticket. Palin might make a good Energy Secretary, but she should never be in the Oval Office. Her views are too narrow to represent the American people. As my husband put is, "Let her run. She'll never make it through the primaries. She can't answer the questions!"

    April 18, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  22. GOPer

    Palin was the one of the most horrible candidates for national office I've seen. I was near a rally in Clearwater Florida and you could hear the crowd chanting terrorist. I went into a nearby Walgreens and a Palin supported approached me and said, "Thank you for voting for Palin". I nicely listened to hear and said I'm a life long republican and I'm voting for Obama because the GOP had no leaders that get it. She said, They're going to kill him anyway". I later watched the Palin speech on TV and she was feeding the hate at her rally. The GOP needs leaders who have a plan for our country. The days of running on fear and tax breaks are over.

    April 18, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  23. Doug

    "Me and two of my most cynical partners"? Not a grammarian, clearly. Also, not one of the three questions he referenced are leading questions. What a tool! Someone should have vetted the vetter.

    April 18, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  24. snarking.slug

    Sen. McCain didn't have the ability to hire good people. He's a maverick. Team work isn't his thing. The man he trusted to vet Gov. Palin is living, breathing proof.
    I'll give him that he was impressed with Gov. Palin. She impressed many people. 3 questions won't illustrate how you run government. She can't run government. Currently, she has 1 legislative appointment to make and she's had at least 4 nominees rejected by the Democratically lead legislature. Governing takes a bridge to operational alliances. She needed to build that bridge much earlier in her term. She didn't understand the she needs to work with her political opposites to govern Alaska and she wouldn't have worked in Washington, either.
    Thank you, Sen. McCain for being who you are. You are an icon. You hire people you like. You allowed America to see of this during the campaign. That's class.

    April 18, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  25. Jay

    Dear God, make it stop.........haven't we beat the last campaign "coulda-shoulda-woulda" to death already?

    I know, gives the Liberal audience more foam for their rabid, childish behavior. Reminds me of kids arguing over a lollipop in a school yard.

    By the way, McCain at least had experience over the Keystone Cops administration we have now, even if Palin was a knit-wit. VP's have a worthless job anyway.

    April 18, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
1 2 3 4