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. W. Art

    Oh sounds like someone got "chewed" out for speaking about Palin earlier. Why people just can't stand their ground when they speak the truth.

    At first, she was a train wreck, now picking her was a good choice.

    October 15, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  2. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    the only people you pulled in during the election to vote for Palin ,was the one tooth big gun tooting ,that only use about 3% of a brain. that also like the idea of WHITES ONLY . so if this is what makes the new republican party base .. then we welcome anyone that can think and be able to help get our great nation back on its feet and take away big corporation rule and greed . also not be bullied into letting insurance companies rule everything. a government health care program can help change the greed to, fare smart business practices. and be able to compete in the world market again . also take away the credit card companies can strong arm peoples so called interest rates ,they are charge more than an illegal lone shark.. " WE THE PEOPLE NEED TO TAKE BACK OUR RIGHTS "

    FIRE IT UP READY TO GO

    GARY DAVIS
    BROOKINGS HARBOR OREGON

    October 15, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  3. southerncousin

    ACORN/SEIU decided the election not the voters. And still the libitards want to give these corrupt organizations power over our lives and the ability to suck up all of our hard earned money to feed their corrupt and evil bosses and the democratic politicians.

    October 15, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  4. windfall

    So being ahead by 2 points in some poll is more important that choosing a catastrophe? The poor GOP is bumping into itself trying to make sense.

    October 15, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  5. Rob Johnson

    Schmidt has a point about the initial impact of Palin's selection. As a liberal, there was a moment there when I was genuinely worried that McCain and Palin might win.

    However, the question historians will argue in years to come is this: Was it worth derailing the Republican Party for a generation for that two weeks of excitement? As shown by the fact that the Republican candidate for Governor in New Jersey won't let Palin near them, she is a divisive figure, even in her own party. However much the GOP base in the red states loves her, most of America is terrified by Palin, and rightly so. She will never be President, and if the GOP nominates her in 2012, it will indeed be a catastrophe for them.

    So basically Schmidt is right on both counts.

    October 15, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  6. Jerry

    The problem was NOT Palin; it was McCain (a RHINO for sure).

    October 15, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  7. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    I don't get it when the McCain camp keeps saying "if it had not been for the economy they would have won"; the economy is and will always be part of Americans lives. Did John McCain and Sarah Palin just expect to waltz into the WH with the title of President & VP sit at their desk and do nothing like GWB. What part of being a World leader don't they understand.

    October 15, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  8. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    having Palin be any kind of a relationship with the republican party is putting the icing on the cake of DOOM and GLOOM for the republican's
    like Jonny Cash sang " down down down to that burning ring of fire.

    good bye to the republican party as we knew them . history will prove out that sooner or later GREED and FEAR and LIES will take you down..

    October 15, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  9. yuri

    We wonder what Schmidt is upto, these days. He trashes Palin one day, and sings panegyrics, odes, and encomiums on her , the next.

    October 15, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. Monrob

    Mr. Schmit: A 2 point lead is well between the margin of error. Please only in your dreams Sarah Palin put you ahead in polls. And I agree with you, Sarah Palin is and will be a disaster. But let her run... we need some fun!

    October 15, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  11. Ray

    What else can he say? They really screwed up when they chose Palin, but none of them will admit it. Her inability to answer very simple questions, her rambling, her word salad speeches that made no sense, the entire package that made up Palin pretty much cost the GOP more votes than McCain's cluelessness about the economy and current events. Also, Palin's behavior at the speeches, even at the debate - some was disgusting, some was abhorrent, some was unforgiveable, some was just plain stupid.

    October 15, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  12. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    "I believe to this day that had she not been picked as the vice presidential candidate, we would never have been ahead"

    Just another verification of what the majority of voters already know is that the republicans place party first and "country first" was just a campaign slogan.

    How is pushing a candidate that party leaders believe is not qualified but popular with the base, putting "Country First"?

    October 15, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  13. Oy Vey

    Malarkey ... Palin was forced on McCain by the Rethuglican leadership.

    Lots of us left him high and dry because of the Palin choice ... plain and simple!

    If McCain had chosen a more politically savvy running mate he might have been elected.

    October 15, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  14. Margaret

    Stevie, stop trashing and blaming others for what you are responsible for.

    McCain ran one of the worst presidential campaigns EVER and it was HIS AND YOUR fault and nobody else's. If you had one, you would have taken credit. When it was obvious from day one that you had no chance, you need to stop blaming others. He had no chance from the get go; he is TOO OLD.

    Your 15 min. of fame is up, especially among members of the Republican party. How long do you intend to make a career blaming others for your losses?

    October 15, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  15. Ray

    So YOU'RE the man resonsible for unleasing this beast across America? Shame on you! I want an apology.

    October 15, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  16. Thomas

    The picking of Palin as VP was that finally drove me from the Republican Party after almost 30 years of voting Republican. If the GOP has so little judgement, so little awareness, so little respect for the position of executives of the United States, they are no longer the party that represents me.

    October 15, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  17. Sheryl

    What's wrong with these people good lord!!!

    October 15, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  18. Pepou

    The woman is a JOKE and a sad one. Enough, enough, enough.

    October 15, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  19. Dave From Philly

    Palin was a unwise choice.

    October 15, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  20. Minnesotan

    More Republican Flip-Flopping. "I was against Sarah Palin before I was for her... at the urging of my neolithic party."

    October 15, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  21. jay

    She's the reason I didn't vote for John McCain.

    October 15, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  22. Marg

    Let's start a new trend CNN...No more mention of Palin.

    October 15, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  23. TerryMD

    So what is the point of a presidential campaign? To "get ahead" in the polls, or to offer a qualified VP candidate who could stand-in for a president in case of a national crisis? What ridiculous logic Schmidt offers!

    October 15, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  24. barbara

    Indeed! Cowtowing to the "emperors of talk radio" indicates to me that the individual in question is unable to think for themself and needs to lean on the opinion of another. When the other opinion is put out there for the sole purpose of increasing outrage and therefor ratings and more dollars in the "emperors" pocket, the cowtower has been duped and makes stupid decisions. Rarely are the emperors opinions backed up by anything more than a segment of the truth and distorted for the benefit of the "emperors" purposes. Personally, I long for the newscasts of yesterday when facts where told and opinion was kept out of the mix. Now I have to spend hours doing research and reading actual documents to educate myself on what is really going on. Television used to be a good news medium but it is getting harder and harder to find the true story.

    October 15, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  25. Thomas

    Who Cares !
    She's a Looser !

    October 15, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
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