January 8th, 2010
01:01 PM ET
4 years ago

Schmidt: McCain aides feared Palin 'debacle'

McCain aides feared Palin's debate performance could prove disastrous.
McCain aides feared Palin's debate performance could prove disastrous.

(CNN) – Former McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt is revealing new details on just how uneasy campaign aides felt about then-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's prospects heading into her debate with rival Joe Biden.

In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper set to air on 60 Minutes Sunday on CBS, Schmidt said Palin's debate preparations were going so poorly that campaign aides feared the closely-watched debate could prove to be a "debacle of historic and epic proportions."

The interview is part of a preview of the upcoming book "Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime," by political reporters Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.

What was most troubling, according to Schmidt, was the fact Palin repeatedly confounded Biden's name during the preparation process, referring to the then-Delaware senator as Sen. O'Biden. Aides were so worried that such a mishap in the actual debate would prove catastrophic that they advised her to simply refer to her opponent as "Joe."

"It was multiple people – and I wasn't one of them – who all said at the same time, 'Just say, Can I call you Joe,' which she did," Schmidt tells Cooper.

Palin herself addresses that moment in her memoir released late last year, "Going Rogue."
"We had no idea my mic would already be hot when I walked onstage, crossed over to his turf, and said, 'Can I call you Joe?' The 'expert' post-debate analysis was that my question was a cleverly devised strategy to disarm my opponent. Yeah, right."

Schmidt and Palin have been engaged in a war of words for months, during which Schmidt has openly questioned Palin's viability to be president and Palin has accused Schmidt of mishandling her during the course of the campaign.


Filed under: Sarah Palin • Steve Schmidt
soundoff (305 Responses)
  1. BA

    Hilarious, someone needs to make a parody of that campaign!!!

    January 8, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  2. ATL Guy

    Now it makes sense why she walked out at the start of the debate and asked him "Can I call you Joe?". I always found that kind of odd from that debate.

    January 8, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  3. John from CT

    I can only hope Palin is the Republican Presidential nominee for 2012.

    January 8, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  4. Dakota

    She is an idiot and she lies. Her biggest lie is her "death panel" chant.

    Has she forgotten (probably) she declared that April 16, 2008 was "healthcare decision day in Alaska." Here is part of her declaration:

    "WHEREAS, as a result of April 16, 2008, being recognized as Healthcare Decisions Day in Alaska, more citizens will have conversations about their healthcare decisions; more citizens will execute advance directives to make their wishes known; and fewer families and healthcare providers will have to struggle with making difficult healthcare decisions in the absence of guidance from the patient.

    NOW, THEREFORE, I, Sarah Palin, Governor of the state of Alaska, do hereby proclaim April 16, 2008, as:

    Healthcare Decisions Day in Alaska, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens."

    So why does she criticize the Obama health care plan for the exact same proposal? Because she has a borderline personality. She's crazy.and should be institutionalized.

    January 8, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  5. larry

    "Sure, you can call me Joe. Can I call you dumb?"

    January 8, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
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