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. shane

    I think she would have made an excellent Vice Prsident and I hopes she runs in 2012. She has a great deal of support. I think she scares certain people and that is why they want to bring her down. She is not even running for anything right now and they still try and rip her apart. The easy target explanation doesn't fly with me. They are scared of her support.

    Nobody tries this hard to sabatoge a person if they don't think they can be a difference maker if elected. Hang in there Sarah many of us are behind you all the way.

    April 17, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  2. Brent

    Given the way the election turned out it sounds like Palin turned out to be high-risk, low-reward.

    Maybe the people doing the vetting process thought that they could sneak an inexperienced, half-wit past the American public because it had happened with Bush. They didn't count on Americans having learned a lesson, and it cost them.

    April 17, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  3. KLK

    Whatever do you people ever have anything nice to say about Palin..

    I like her glasses.

    April 17, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  4. Objective Thinking

    I'd like to know what her answers to those questions were.

    April 17, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  5. Geoffrey Pahl

    ALL risk; NO reward!

    April 17, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  6. Keefe

    I love Sarah Palin, she's the reason I stood in line for 4 hours in the hot Florida Sun to vote for Barrack Obama....!

    April 17, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  7. indie voter

    No wonder they selected a VP candidate who can't speak coherent English when the clown who led the vetting processs says "Me and two of my most cynical partners ....." instead of "two of my most ... and I interviewed ....."

    This guy is a well-connected attorney!?? He sounds like a 16-year-old high school dropout! Guess their standards weren't very high – look who they ended up with.

    April 17, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. Great distruction

    Goes to show how a selected group of people will always protect their kind, no matter how big of a mess up they are. They will go to hell and back to keep from admitting their horrible mistake. I always say you prove yourself to be the bigger person when you can admit your mistakes.

    April 17, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  9. concerned

    I also cannot believe that McCain will not admit she was a bad choice. It's pretty ridiculous.

    April 17, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  10. andrea

    They call that vetting ? Hey, as long as Palin is willing to Nuke somebody, she passed the test. You betcha....

    April 17, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  11. KJS

    Wow - Culvahouas was impressed with Palin. Remind me not to call them next time I need expert attorneys.

    April 17, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  12. That Other Jerry

    Sarah Palin is exactly what she has been from the start. A reasonably competent governor of a rather small (population), rural state. She has strengths and weaknesses, quirks and foibles just like every other single person who ran for office this year. President Obama seems to be doing a fine enough job and will make his mark in history, but face it: he is neither blisteringly intelligent nor divinely saintly. He is, however, exceedingly skilled at managing his image and delighting the media, which after all is what really matters these days. Palin made the mistake of allowing the conventional wisdom to define her, and the easily-led minds on blogs such as this one continue to follow dutifully along.

    I am intrigued by the way CNN enjoys reporting her every eye twitch as though it possessed some significant meaning. Obviously they are so invested in the public opinion of her as some kind of hick buffoon that they can't allow her a moment outside the spotlight in which to repair her image.

    April 17, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  13. Clara J.

    As a lifelong conservative and Republican, I'd just like my party to know it wasn't Palin who lost my vote for our ticket. It was watching all the morons at the convention, dancing around, shouting, "Clean Coal, Clean Coal" in the "Mom, flag and apple pie" white baseball caps somebody passed out for free. Do I LOOK stupid?

    This world has not needed fossil fuels for over sixty years, but we continue to push them. Why? For MONEY. Look where it has delivered us today.

    Google Disclosure Project, and watch the full press conference every news agency covered, but feared ridicule or governmental backlash to report it on the air. Check your tapes from May 9, 2001 at the Washington Press Club.

    It's time for the truth, folks. I'm a living witness to it.

    Demand full and open senate and congressional hearings, releasing witnesses from their top secret and above clearances. Those triangles over Texas are not swamp gas, people. We don't need to burn dead dinosaurs to fly, and we've never been alone in the universe.

    April 17, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  14. mary

    A.B. Culvahouse. Who is this guy? I'm simply amazed at his comments. I could never be proud to call her my VP – possibly Prez. I prefer someone really really intelligent who surrounds themself with super intelligent people vs. high school comrades. Yeah. Go figure.

    April 17, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  15. Jeff

    "Knocked those questions out of the park!" According to whom? Obviously not the voters.

    April 17, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  16. stephen

    "Palin pick will be a parody and people who still pry for a place of VP to put her in ought to ponder over it like a pack of plain party politicians. We personally think it's a prescription for a perilous pandemonium."–yuri

    Previous post pretty pathetic. Probably provided by a person possessed with petty presumptions pertaining to Palin.

    April 17, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  17. Serving Our Country

    Turns out that many military men and women serving are changing their minds and wish they had voted the McCain/Palin ticket. I hope Obama learns fast. I wish him good luck. We'll give him a chance, but still let him know when he's wrong.

    April 17, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  18. Kathy

    I don't care about the illegitimate grandson, whether or not she exerted pressure on the state trooper to get them to fire her ex-brother-in-law, or the questionable billing practices for staying at home instead of living in Juneau. I do care deeply whether or not my leaders have a good command of the English language, a good understanding of the constitution, and can demonstrate an ability to think on their feet. Palin talks gibberish most of the time and relies on her – shall we say 'girlish charm' – to get by. She has clearly demonstrated that she either has a very limited understanding of the constitution and other governmental policies or she is just unable to express her knowledge. She would not have made a good vice president, she would have become a charming laughingstock that no one would have taken seriously. Needless to say, not what I was looking for in a major candidate.

    April 17, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  19. RO

    Maybe she just said what they wanted to hear....

    April 17, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  20. Mary

    The fact that so many attack this woman of faith with such ferocity keeps her on my radar. She knows who she is and what she stands for.
    If she wasn't so special, would we be discussing her? She is a threat to the Democratic party and all that is evil. A woman who came out of the pristine wilderness like a gust of fresh air to clean things up.

    She may just be our modern day Joan of Arc.

    Palin is the real deal and Joe Biden knows it, too. He just gushes everytime he mentions her name.

    I'm behind you 100%, Sarah! Don't mind these attacks, it's just people describing themselves.

    April 17, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  21. Shirley In California

    Why is this important? She LOST. Your team LOST. We have a real president now who will be with us until 2013. This statement is not going to buy you more voters for this moron hillbilly trash. The whole world knows she's an idiot by now. I'll say it again she will NOT represent the republican party. Not only will she not get the votes-deep down inside she is too afraid to go against Obama because she doesn't know what strategy he will use against her. All you palin worshippers-go to Alaska and see her if you must because she will never occupy the WH this you can believe.

    April 17, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  22. Jeff - Denver

    I wish we knew what the answers where to those questions. I was so terribly disappointed in her and in McCain. I actually was on the fence as to who to vote for until Palin joined the ticket.

    April 17, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  23. I used to like CNN but not anymore!

    One moron Republican impressed with another moron Republican is not news! Isn't it rather moot to be talking about it now? She's made it loud and clear to every "thinking" American that she by no means is intelligent enough to be anywhere near the White House except maybe as a visitor! This woman is an idiot period.

    April 17, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  24. keekers

    Sounds like you're still not a very smart risk taker, Mr. McCain. Thank God you are not our president.

    April 17, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  25. Willy Brown

    I know why liberals and democrats are still afraid of Palin. It's because she has more executive exp. Than #44 and his side kick Joe combined. Change is coming Jan 21, 2013.

    April 17, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
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