April 17th, 2009
08:23 PM ET
14 years ago

Palin as VP pick: 'high risk, high reward'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/02/art.mccain.palin.flag.gi.jpg caption="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: Extra • John McCain • Sarah Palin
soundoff (270 Responses)
  1. Ribber

    What a shock that the vetter says he was right. Useless article.

    April 17, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  2. Which Will Become Extinct First? Elephants or Rotting on the Vine Rushpublicans?

    That makes the pick even more idiotic than the candidate herself. The only thing this woman could ever hit out of the park is a lie or exaggeration about her "qualifications".

    April 17, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  3. Lee M

    It was a Hail-Mary desperation move. It was an effort to bamboozle the public. In short, it was a fraud, but that shouldn't surprise anyone who sees republican disinformation flow from their organ, Fox News, every day.

    They knew she wasn't even remotely qualified. They did it anyway, to hell with the well being of our country!

    "Country First" was a laughable fraud.

    April 17, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  4. Aaron

    Choosing a high risk/high reward VP candidate is not a very smart thing for someone whith so many medical conditions. It was completely wreckless and America knew it. On top of that, Republicans are far to inclusive of a party to stay relevant with the new generation. This whole two party system needs to be scrapped if you ask me.

    April 17, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  5. Hmmmmmm

    The Republicans will have to restructure their party for them to have any chance of winning the 2012 election. Palin is imploding in Alaska. They'll have to come up with a more centralist candidate. They need to keep in mind that we'll have 4 yrs of new young voters and 4 yrs less of retirees who are typically Republican. Should be interesting.

    Culvahouse was hoping for the Hillary voters. Dumb move on his part.

    April 17, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  6. Independent AZ Woman

    "...you shouldn't have told me that. I've been a risk-taker all my life."

    Which is why, Mr. McCain, you were unsuitable to be the CEO of the USA. The presidency is not a crap game.

    April 17, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  7. david

    picking palin cost mccain the election. obama may have still won but not by a landslide. republicans, known to me, voted for obama and donated to his campaign soon after mccain announced palin as his running mate and palin revealed herself to be an airhead. even NRA members, known to me, voted for obama fearing palin would be potus in the event of mccain's death since mccain presented very old.

    April 17, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  8. Aviate

    "High-Risk, High-Reward" vs. "No Drama Obama"

    As if we needed any further evidence that America made the right choice last November. Thank Goodness!

    April 17, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  9. wakeupamerica

    This is a joke, just like Palin.

    April 17, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  10. c.spurgeon

    Well what a deal. I am just delighted that they brought each other down. Old was bad but far right was worse....What a duo and the vetter should never vet again!

    April 17, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  11. TjayeInLA

    It was a high reward...Obama won!

    April 17, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    High risk NO REWARD

    April 17, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  13. Smart voter

    Was Culvahouse paid for this great service to the country, or did he do it out of the goodness of his heart? Thank you, Mr. Culvahouse and your "most cynical lawyers" for being so easily impressed. Had you not been so impressionable, we might have ended up with President McCain. Anyone listening to Palin's speech at the Republican convention who came away "impressed" should seek serious psychological help. The most amazing and unbelievable thing is that there still are people (and media types) who are still talking about Palin "running for president."Even the crude Polish jokes eventually came to an end. Please!

    April 17, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  14. Hilary

    How is this relevant? The people didn't want her as V.P. What makes you think they'd want her as president?

    April 17, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  15. Helen

    High Risk, NO REWARD. So glad you chose her guys, she helped ruin any small hope you had of winning the election. She would have been an awful Vice President and a stupid President if that need had arisen.

    April 17, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  16. John Black

    I liked John McCain's views however I felt he was too old and did worry about his temper. I liked Obama's charisma but didn't like 95% of his views.

    I despised Biden. While he did a better job in the vice president debate he was wrong on so many of his facts. He did sound better presenting his bad facts than Palin though.

    I fell in love with Pailin from the first time I heard she was selected. And while I still really like her voting record and her views she came off badly in the debate and in several interviews. I think between being "handled" by what the staff thought everyone wanted to see and the bad press she got it hurt her image quite a bit. The press still to this day likes to rag on her. I do wish her the best and would still vote for her anytime but she will have one heck of a hard time changing peoples minds. She's been giving a stigma by the press before people really got to know her. And that why people who actually know and have sat down for a real conversation with her really like her. And those that just run around believing what they read is truth don't.

    April 17, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  17. nic

    McCain needed a scapegoat on which to blame his impending loss, that's why he went with the "high risk." The campaign was over before she was picked...

    April 17, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  18. Huckecat

    This is the most ridiculous spin I have ever read. "...we came away impressed." OH PLEASE. The woman can't utter one grammatically correct sentence.

    She didn't even know what the VP does, so her answer was not only not impressive, it was most likely incorrect.

    April 17, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  19. Enough!

    I'd like to know what knocking "those three questions out of the park" means.

    1) only if the U.S. was threatened and after exhausting all diplomatic options

    2) There's no greater honor than to serve your country

    3) We would take every precaution to ensure that the loss of civilian life is minimal

    Maybe you should have asked her is she had foreign policy experience, or what newspapers she read

    April 17, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  20. A. Darton

    I am very please with the President and Vice-President I have now.

    April 17, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
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