(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.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Barack Obama's former campaign manager and John McCain's former campaign manager agree: Sarah Palin would be "catastrophic" for Republicans if she is the party's presidential nominee in 2012.
Steve Schmidt, McCain's former campaign head, first made the assertion in October, telling a Washington audience that the GOP "could have a catastrophic election result" if Palin wins the Republican nomination.
David Plouffe, Obama's 2008 campaign manager, echoed Schmidt's remark in a newly published interview with The New Yorker.
(CNN) – Nearly a year after Election Day 2008, the campaign managers for John McCain and Barack Obama, who spent last year at war, have joined forces.
McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt and David Plouffe, his counterpart on the Obama campaign, are teaming up to develop a political communications center at the University of Delaware. Both men attended the university, though they did not graduate.
The two political operatives are working together to develop a curriculum combining political science, communication, marketing, sociology, and other subjects.
The effort comes as both Schmidt and Plouffe are in the process of obtaining their full bachelor's degrees from the university.
"It's a privilege to get a chance to work with David and the talented women and men at the University of Delaware to help create a center that will help students study our political system and maybe inspire a few of them to participate in our nations political life," Schmidt said in an e-mail to CNN.
The news comes a day before Plouffe is set to speak at his alma mater in what will be one of the few open press speeches the former Obama campaign manager has delivered since the election.
(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."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain is openly admitting that there were tensions between his former campaign manager Steve Schmidt and those close to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain’s one-time White House running mate. Still, McCain calls Palin “a formidable force” in the GOP and remains open to the possibility of Palin being his party’s presidential nominee in 2012.
“With a high-pressure situation, there's always tensions that develop within campaigns,” McCain says in a wide-ranging interview that airs Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. ”And there were clearly tensions between Steve Schmidt and people in the Palin camp.”
Still, McCain said, Palin was an asset to his presidential campaign.
“There are fundamental facts … that cannot be denied,” McCain adds. “When we selected or asked Sarah Palin to be my running mate, it energized our party. We were ahead in the polls, until the stock market crashed. And she still is a formidable force in the Republican Party.”
“I have great affection for her,” McCain continues. But “did we always agree on everything in the past? Will we in the future? No.”
While McCain said he could not predict what would happen in the next presidential election, the Arizona Republican says he is open to many potential nominees for his party - including Palin.
“Look let's let a thousand flowers bloom. Let's come up with a winning combination the next time. … let's all go through the process, rather than condemning anybody's chances,” he says, reacting to recent comments about Palin by Schmidt. “And I'm happy to say we have some great people out there, and Sarah is one of them.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sarah Palin is remaining silent about a sharp jab directed at her Friday by former John McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt, who predicted that a potential Palin presidential bid in 2012 would be "catastrophic."
A spokeswoman for the former Alaska governor said Palin is holding her fire until her new book is released next month.
"The governor will write about all of this in her book," Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapleton said in an e-mail, referring to the internal fighting that marred the final weeks of McCain's president bid. "There will be plenty of time to talk about it then."
(CNN) - John McCain’s general election campaign began as “the strategic equivalent of throwing a football through a tire at 50 yards” – and was doomed weeks before Election Day, his former chief strategist said Thursday.
“We were running a campaign under extra difficult circumstances - the state of the Republican Party, the president’s unpopularity, the economy - a lot of issues that were not John McCain’s fault, but were John McCain’s problem in this race,” Schmidt told an audience at the University of Delaware, according to Politico. “When Lehman Brothers collapsed in the fall I knew pretty much right away that ... from an electoral strategy perspective, the campaign was finished.”
Schmidt and Obama campaign manager David Plouffe - who both attended, but did not graduate from Delaware - shared the stage and looked back at the 2008 campaign.
Schmidt praised Obama's political skills. “This was, in my view, the unfinished Bobby Kennedy campaign - the idealism, the passion, the inspiration he gave to people, it was organic and it was real and it wasn’t manufactured at a tactical level in the campaign,” he said.