October 15th, 2009
10:57 AM ET
5 years ago

Schmidt defends choice of Palin for VP

Schmidt is defending John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin.
Schmidt is defending John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin.

(CNN) – Ten days after declaring Sarah Palin would be "catastrophic" to the Republican Party should she become its standard bearer in 2012, former McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt defended the choice of the former Alaska governor for the No. 2 spot on the GOP's presidential ticket last year.

"I believe to this day that had she not been picked as the vice presidential candidate, we would never have been ahead - not for one second, not for one minute, not for one hour, not for one day," Schmidt told students at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service Wednesday, according to the Web site Arkansasnews.com.

A CNN poll of polls immediately following the Republican National Convention in September 2008 showed the McCain/Palin ticket with a 2-point lead over its Democratic counterpart. But a similiar poll of polls two weeks later suggested that lead quickly evaporated.

Schmidt, among those in the campaign who lobbied McCain to pick Palin as his running mate, suggested Wednesday that President Obama's decisive win had more to do with the economy than either member of the Republican presidential ticket.

"We were three points ahead on September 15 when the stock market crashed, and then the election was over," he said.

Still, tensions ran deep between Schmidt and Palin through the campaign's final stretch, and Schmidt told CNN's John King earlier this month he's not expecting a flattering portrayal in the Alaska Republican's upcoming book, "Going Rogue."

"I think it may say that I was anti-rogue in the running of the campaign," Schmidt said.

In his Wednesday comments, Schmidt also cautioned Republican politicians not to follow the dictates of conservative talk radio hosts.

"Republican politicians who seek to lead the party, and in fact seek to lead the government, cannot be seen as kowtowing to the emperors of talk radio," he said. "If they are, then I think the broad middle of the electorate that decides elections disqualifies them from leadership."


Filed under: Sarah Palin • Steve Schmidt
soundoff (108 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Just 2 weeks ago Schmidt said the woman wasn't qualified. Can he make up his mind?

    October 15, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  2. phoenix86

    If during the campaign Obama had told the truth about what he wanted to do and how he would govern, we would be talking about President McCain today.

    Obama lied and the majority of voters bought the lie. Now the media and international community jump hoops to prop up this idiot.

    Can't wait for 2010.

    October 15, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  3. Wake Up

    Why does a failure of a campaign get so much chatter? McCain lost because he was Democrat light. A real conservative would have won and save us from this Obamination.

    October 15, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  4. mjm

    You never hear anyone say that Democrats shouldn't listen to Air America.

    October 15, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  5. George

    I defent that choice also. They lost thank God.

    October 15, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  6. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Schmidt should very, very quiet on this. The country already has a real clear picture of Sarah Palin!

    October 15, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  7. Four and The Door

    One other factor that may have been involved with the 2008 presidential election loss is that Obama made promise after promise that he had no intention of keeping. Okay, that and the economy.

    October 15, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  8. PULEEEZZZ!! lets tell some truth

    ONE MORE TIME we again see how stupid, irrelevant, self absorbed, and self centered the republican party is. This girl could have been the daughter of the president of the United States, with Sarah Palin as our vice, soon to be, our president. This Meghan things she is a 'liberal' republican.. There is NO such thing. Its all ego from the start

    October 15, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  9. BestProfitCompany = WAR

    You were never ahead! You point to polls for evidence?!? HA! Any poll can be manipulated thats why polls should be ban; they are dumb and corrupt! (ex: Fix news polls)

    October 15, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  10. Melissa

    Then Schmidt is an idiot.

    October 15, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  11. ThinkAgain

    Palin appeals to mean-spirited people who think a willingness to lie and say nasty things equals strength. Thoughtful voters soured on Palin when they quickly discovered she's nothing more than a pretty, empty suit.

    Republican family and friends have told me they lost all respect for and stopped supporting her when she continued to use her children as political props and then whined about the media treating her unfairly. The final nail in the coffin came when she quit as governor and tried to spin it as some kind of sacrifice for a higher cause.

    As long as the GOP continues to treat the American public as idiots incapable of seeing through their game of party before country, its candidates will lose.

    October 15, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "I believe to this day that had she not been picked as the vice presidential candidate, we would never have been ahead — not for one second, not for one minute, not for one hour, not for one day,"
    -------------------------------

    WHEN exactly were you ahead??? Not that your erroneous, but typical, reconstruction of history matters at this juncture. which prompts me to ask: 'How could she have been a plus to McCain, yet be catastrophic for 2012?'. Exactly how many mouths do you have Schimidt?

    October 15, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  13. appology needed

    your choice of VP was deeply offensive and unleashed the Palin "Jerry Spinger" family on the U.S.

    you need to be less of a strategist and think more of the consequences of your actions

    October 15, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  14. Sparky

    You have to ask: 'Who got to this guy to amend his HONEST evelautaion of a nobody??'

    October 15, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  15. Randolph Carter

    That's all well and good but if McCain had picked someone more qualified, less of a dingbat and more moderate, in the long run he could have won. When I found out who he picked I said that's either the smartest pick ever or the stupidest. McCain essentially went all in. We all know how it turned out. Have a nice day!

    October 15, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  16. townna brown

    who cares

    October 15, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  17. Darko

    Never mind the fact that those talk show personalities happen to be right about a large number of things. Their delivery may be a turn off to some, but the message is there and few can come up with a real rebuttal. Instead you get the usual straw man arguments and ad hominem attacks that have absolutely nothing to do with the subject at hand.

    October 15, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  18. Francisco Cardenas

    There is no legitimate "defense" for choosing Palin. It eventually cost McCain the Presidency.

    October 15, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  19. single mom

    Schmidt, you screwed it up. You had an American hero and a conservative woman who could have lit up the electorate. YOU mismanaged things and didn't work things to their strengths.

    I do agree with his last statements about Republicans not following conservative talk radio.

    October 15, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  20. Sniffit

    If you take 60 seconds to really think it through, his opinion that if they had not picked Palin they would never have gained a slight temporary lead is a very VERY sad commentary about the GOP and its minions. Seriously...grow up guys...stop hating smart, educated people and find some to lead your party so we can start having real discussion and debate instead of being deluged with the abject idiocy you rain down upon us.

    October 15, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  21. kr

    Defend her or not, I feel she is still going to bury you under the bus. Bottom line she did not win the race regardless of how pretty a picture you try to paint. What did she do to make her poll go down; that is the question to be truthfully answered. It seems there is not a truthful answer to that because everyone has short memories.

    October 15, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  22. I Support President Obama!

    The republicans lost because they could care less about American people, plunged us into an illegal war based on a lie, bankrupted this country and destroyed our relations around the world. Now they are continuing that same form of destruction by criticising anything and everything the President does. How anyone with a conscience can vote for a republican is a mystery.

    October 15, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  23. Carl

    I noticed that all the people who supported Palin's choice as candidate for VP keep reminding us that she brought energy and enthusiasm for the GOP.

    What these have people have to understand is that selecting Carrie Prejean would have achieved the same effect. Would it have energized the party? Yes. Would it have helped the GOP ticket? Not in the slightest.

    Palin was a beautiful and enthusiastic woman who many people could connect to. The problem is she was woefully unprepared for the challenge of national scrutiny and international political discourse. She was lost from the beginning as the country judged her (as it judged all the other candidates).

    October 15, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  24. MARKPAIN

    Sarah Palin`s obnoxiuos attitude and the fact that she did not discuss issues made almost as much difference as John McCain talking out of both sides of his mouth. He may have won or been competitive with almost anyone else except Huckabee or Romney. I like to think most U.S citizens want to hear hatred 24/7

    October 15, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  25. Jackie in Dallas

    How clueless does this guy Schmidt have to get before you stop talking about him? I could have voted for McCain if he had picked another moderate conservative to run with him...Palin immediately turned me off, and thousands (if not millions) like me. There was a lag as people went "Sarah who?", but it didn't take long to figure out what a fruitcake she was/is.

    McCain, though, put his own nails in the GOP coffin when he admitted not knowing as much as he should about the economy. That is the problem when you are campaigning based on one issue (in his case, his experience in foreign affairs and warfare), and the picture suddenly shifts. People whose IRAs evaporated overnight, or whose pensions disappeared did NOT want someone who couldn't even recall how many residences he owned in charge!

    October 15, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
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