April 17th, 2009
08:23 PM ET
13 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. Rob

    Joe Biden is a bigger joke.....what a waste of space. At least Palin is a babe.

    April 17, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  2. KW, Vail AZ

    "Serving Our Country" must be an imbecile if he thinks that Sarah Palin or John McCain would have made a better President than Barack Obama. Get Real!

    April 17, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  3. Who says

    It turned out be be high risk, low reward. I wouldn't think that these are people other campaigns are going to run to, except maybe Palin's. How many repackaging attempts are they going to try? She appeals to a minority of conservative individuals. That's nice!!!

    April 17, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  4. independent

    palin was just a bad pick, period. theres so many people that share

    the same views as her, BUT WHY PICK HER!!!???? cnn should get

    off the palin subject already, shes goin to get voted out of office,

    unanimously, when next election season comes around for her

    governership and shes just goin to become a washed up and

    embarassed has been, just fade away already palin.

    April 17, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  5. Serving Our Country

    wikipedia? are you serious...its not even a credible source!

    Even colleges don't accept it for citations.


    April 17, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  6. tee

    Phone home, you are delusional. Dems afraid of Palin? I don't think so!!!. We welcome the opportunity to have her run against our President. This time around, when they debate, the rules will not be changed to suite her lack of knowledge. Then after the debate, you could interpret for us Dems. We only understand sentences that make sense. Joe Biden gushes because he can't believe how stupid she is, and to keep from saying it out loud, he just gushes

    April 17, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  7. anderson

    What will it take CNN to stop talking about her? 99% of the feedback you get about her is negative. Nothing is going to change. Enough Please.

    April 17, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  8. Dave NYC

    "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."

    This story reminds me to thankful that McCain is not handling the economy. This is the guy who wanted to gamble social security on the stock market.

    April 17, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  9. Kathleen

    Hmmmm, so they were impressed, huh? Makes me wonder how high her skirt was slit and how low her neckline was. Otherwise, they have the lowest standards in the world.

    April 17, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  10. vet in texas

    She said the war in Iraq was a mission from God when she was introduced by McCain........and after that totally bombed on Katie Couric, then blamed Katie for the question.......the only thing that can prevent abortions are safe sex and birth control which she obviously knows nothing about!

    April 17, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  11. zen

    i can't wait for this economy to turn around (which btw, looks like we may be turning a corner soon – if the stock market is any indication). anyway, i can't wait b/c I really want to see how the dissenters will try and obama bash then. what will they say?

    more importantly obama did NOT create the financial crisis he inherited it. so soon the right forgets that this was their mess that obama is trying to clean up.

    anyway, being from alaska i can say palin is a joke. being mayor of wasilla is like being class president of small high school in hicksville only less important. seriously, wasilla has fewer people then most lower 48 highschools, and alaska as a whole has fewer people than caribou.

    palin will NOT get reelected as gov of AK.

    April 17, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  12. We love you Sarah

    It's true, why else would we put so many comments about her? She is our next president and will inherit a bigger mess than O and his sniffers (I don't mean Oprah either). All these negative comments only makes her stronger. Nothing but criminal activity and tax evaders come from Chicago. Nothing like a breath of fresh air from Alaska. Aaahhhh,,, thank you Sarah! We love you, need you, and miss you!

    April 17, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  13. An American that hasn't been dumbed down..

    Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh have the exact same effect on the MAJORITY of AMERICANS, ANGER, DISGUST, SHAME AND SICKNESS......

    John McCain was a fool if he thought this repugnant women would gain Hillary Clinton supporters....

    Yeah he gambles alright, and he lost big time.....

    April 17, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  14. Donald E Reilly

    There was more to this than meets the eye. Perhaps some very transparent strategic objectives.

    April 17, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  15. Baffled Republican

    Mr writes: "Oh we'll be back, my dear little liberals. Enjoy your 4 years"


    My question to you Mr. Who are you to call other people "little" because of their political convictions?

    It is certainly not in the spirit of freedom and liberty! I guess I find it "little" to utter statements like that. Our country is a grand country, because we are protected in having the right to think freely and express ourselves accordingly (and our brave soldiers fight for that right) . Sadly I think you missed that point!

    April 17, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  16. marcus

    makes ya wonder what people at the top of the republican party think "hitting it out of the park" means ? what kind of imbocile vetting process do they have, that they came out of there thinking palin was a winner ?

    April 17, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  17. independent

    It will never happen.....enough of these articles already.

    April 17, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  18. Tom I.

    High Risk means High Probability of Failure.

    Which is exactly what McCain reaped.

    However, the American people reaped success from McCain's pick, for we now have Barack Obama as president. I certainly thank Ms. Palin for all that she did to make this happen.

    April 17, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  19. Barbara Independent in NY

    My husband didn't vote for McCain BECAUSE Palin was his running mate. He was terrified that McCain would die in office and we'd be stuck with this bubble head. I never intended to vote for McCain, regardless of his choice or running mate. He scared me. I guess I saw too many "You Tube" clips of him losing his temper.

    April 17, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |

    It's back office, inept schmucks like Culvahouse that have in no small way led this country to ruin with their "advise" to our political leaders. It's essentially power without responsibility or accountability. What did we get for theri efforts? Bible Thumpin' trailer trash named Palin!

    To that end, betcha' Bushie wishes now that he never took the advise of his "legal council" when it came to the legalities of what torture is.

    April 17, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  21. gaga

    yeah right.! Impressed? silliest thing i have heard

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

    What amazes me about the extreme left not all the left just the extreme, is this BO has never been in a office he had to make decisions in a senator for year and half MAYBE. I am kidding somewhat with this comment here did he find the key to the mens room. What that means is that he hasn't been in the system long enough to learn how to complete agendas. I am a huge fan of Governor Palin and the talk about her from the left tells me the left is worried about just how good she is! Not looks Competencey I have much more respect for her than Obama, he is not honest a for instance the spending bill he did not let the public look at it like he said NO TRANSPSRANCEY a majority of the money will not spend for 2 years that hardly stimula0tes the economy. Also if it was so important to get the 1000 page document that no one read in to law then why did he come to Colorado where I live and sign it here it was an expensive publicity stunt NOTHING else. Obama is Following FDR and the 30's FDR had unemployment at 10- 25% for 10 years and did not end the depression WWII did. The market crash in 29 didn't cause the depression two president hoover raising tax from 20 -55% started it and then having rates at 90% ensured it. THe market was recovering from the crash Think about this

    April 17, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  23. Keith in Austin

    The liberal hypocracy is truely comical. They shutter at the thought of anyone disagreeing with the anointed one, BHO but are the first to spew their vile hatred when Palin's name is even mentioned.

    April 17, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  24. Robin

    Sniffit, you did not cite, "wikipedia", the most unreliable source on the internet? Sheesh, no wonder you are so ill informed.

    Face it, Sarah Palin has EXECUTIVE experience. Meaning she was a mayor and a govenor.

    AOTUS Obama (apologist of the US) has two years as a Jr. Senator. Yes, he can speak well, but does he really say anything.

    April 17, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  25. Serving Our Country

    Have a great night. I gotta take care of the kids. I enjoyed this.

    I'm really glad you are active in the political process, even if we don't agree.

    It's what America is about.

    April 17, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
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