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. Tina, FL

    I'm utterly at a loss for words...

    April 17, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  2. Boisepoet

    Let me guess her answers to the three questions:
    On nuclear weapons: “Are those durn communists we’re gonna attack with them nuclear bombs? If they are, then ya betcha’ I’m gonna be usin’ ‘em. “
    On Bin Laden and civilian casualties: “Those civilians aren’t Christians are they? Cause if they aren’t then let’s use us some nukes!”
    On being VP: “I just know god has a plan for me to be one heartbeat away from implementing his plan on this earth and I just pray for all that goodness that god will fill me with when he makes me president and lets me have them nukes to show his love all over those heathens that reject him and his awesome love cause those that don’t love him are under the spell of witchcraft and I just know his plan is for me to help them see they’re wrong. That’s why I should be VP.”

    April 17, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  3. LMC

    I can see no high reward with Palin as President. Bush was bad enough. I don't think we need to see how low we can possibly go. The only reason the McCain camp went for Palin was to pander to the religious right-wing branch of the GOP. I hope I never see the day Palin or anyone as ill-prepared as her making it into the highest office in our nation. That would indeed be a most grievous day.

    April 17, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  4. jalen

    you right wing extremist won't get back in the white house for a while. you people are nothing but a party of bigots. and dividers, i can't stand your ilk of person. wanting tax cuts and breaks all the time then starting wars and then abandonding the veterans you have them duped. you repug's are the party of the stars and the bars. a skunk can not change his stripe.

    April 17, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  5. dave

    Did you get paid? If she was the best that was out there for McCain that's sad.

    April 17, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  6. the best

    sarah palin is the best. she would have been an excellent vice president. in fact.....she will make an excellent president....just wait and see!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! after four years of the mesiah.......the united states will get a real president to handle real problems. god bless sarah palin and the USA!

    April 17, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  7. pam Eugene OR

    I simply can't believe McCain was willing the take a risk with the future of America. The last bit of respect I had for McCain is now gone.
    Considering McCain's age Palin was a huge risk to America.
    I am so sad to finally understand McCain's thought process. It is quite disappointing.

    April 17, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  8. Uncle Ellsworthy

    If you look at it objectively there is only a handful of people (judging by the number of comments) who are so despicably hatefull. They probably don't think so but they are in the minority, since most folks don't feel this way. Yes, their candidate won the election but most folks who voted for him do not despise Gov Palin, only the few that are part of the lunatic fringe. Whether she would do well in 2012 totally depends on the country's views 3 to 4 years from now. Today's views are not at all relevent as the political scene changes too frequently for anyone to make that assessment, especially the posters on here.
    Y'all have a nice day even if you don't really deserve it, I'm sure Gov Palin wishes you well as do I.

    April 17, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  9. ReaganTMan

    Sarah Palin was a fabulous pick for VP. She energized the base. McCain's campaign headquarters and offices were empty. You could hear the crickets chirping. Suddenly Sarah ignited the party. The liberals hate her because what she stands for threatens to expose their intellectually bankrupt philosophy for the "Obama-nation" that it is.

    Palin has a legion of followers. Her personal charm and charisma will win her many more. It's amazing how people who meet her are instantaneously attracted. But those that don't know her attack her.

    It's time for the American people to realize that the media lies to them. Making decisions based on what a Saturday Night live comedian does in a skit is not what I call educated voting. Let's face it, Palin is hot, and I'm not just referring to her physical appearance. She can attract a crowd and get people motivated unlike any other politician I've seen in a long time. She is one of the most sought after person in the country when it comes to people wanting her to appear at their functions.

    April 17, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  10. arithmetic is liberal

    Willy Brown April 17th, 2009 5:15 pm ET

    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.

    Geez Louise!!! Do you people in that little right wing echo chamber even LISTEN TO YOURSELVES anymore?!

    April 17, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  11. Mama for Obama

    I hope Palin and Newt G. run together! What a joke that will be! No wonder our country is in such serious trouble. Look who has been running the show for the last 8 years! Thanks God for Obama/ Biden!

    April 17, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  12. Serving Our Country

    Yes we do want SMART and COMPETENT leadership.

    Maybe we'll get it in 2012. Look at how frustrated with the lack of "Change". And our children are going to be in debt up too thier eyeballs.

    Wow, thanks Congress and mister Prez!

    April 17, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  13. Mike S.

    Thank you, CNN, for this blessed news day with TWO Sarah Palin articles on your news site. And who says you are the liberal media?

    We just can't get enough of Tundra Barbie, the woman who sunk the McCain campaign.

    April 17, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  14. Dexter Skagway

    Anyone willing to risk the well-being of America on a totally unqualified person like Palin, just for the sake of getting votes, well, McCain deserved to lose. And the Palin choice just killed him beyond the narrow-minded confines of the conservative base.

    Palin is a creep. The only reason for her to be president is to prove that you actually can do worse than W.

    April 17, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  15. matt

    Obama likes to kiss them saudi jewels but BO is also a liar

    April 17, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  16. DE from MN

    Why do I get the uncomfortable impression Sarah Palin is George Bush in a dress (with lipstick)?

    April 17, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  17. candian pov

    Its interesting to note that most comments from Palin supporters are full of spelling and grammar errors.

    April 17, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  18. HUGH USARMY coldwar vet

    Why must we dig up this ancient history? We've all–been there, done that. It's like trying to resurrect a dead-horse! Can't this former campaign rhetoric just go away? The 2008 election was way too long, and it's finally over. Let's be done with it. It's time to move on.

    April 17, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  19. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    So, ummm, what DID she say about killing innocent civilians in an attempt to kill bin Laden?

    You know, an answer that knocked Vulvahouse "out of the park."

    April 17, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  20. Rennee' Hernandez, Fillmore, CA

    I'm sorry, but if McCain wanted a woman to run as VP on the GOP ticket, certainly there must be more qualified female candidates in the Republican Party. Palin saying that she has foreign policy "experience" because she could see Russia from Alaska is like my saying I have foreign policy "experience" because I married a hispanic. Sarah Palin has no business being anywhere near the White House.

    April 17, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  21. Pete

    Impressed? By what? It's pretty telling that he did not say what specifically he was impressed by–just some generic terms of approval, like "impressed." She's simply not qualified for the job and showed time and time again that she did not know what she was talking about. I dont agree with John McCain's positions and I did not vote for him, but he was certainly qualified to be president. Palin? No way.

    April 17, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  22. tee

    The dumb leading the dumb. I don't care how hard they try to make Palin intelligent and competent. I'm not buying it!!!!! I saw first hand what she had to offer. Thanks, but NO thanks. Can't Risk IT!!!!!!!

    April 17, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  23. republicans hate america

    what you did was pick her to thinking that such a superficial issue would be the reason to win rather then the real issues of the country. fortunately people saw right through your motives in not putting your country first and got spanked in Nov. I hope your narrow focus will continue on to 2012 and beyond because we are so over the rush limbaugh party.

    April 17, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  24. Cruzan Obama Mama

    For all the idiots on this thread defending Palin, claiming she should of won, & waiting for 2012.....be honest with yourselves!!!!!! Do you honestly think that McCain or Palin could of handled the issues we are dealing with right now like Obama? Could you honestly see Palin guiding us through this economic crisis & auto & bank drama? Are you people serious?.....She couldn't even form a competent sentence, AK is in shambles (not the bogus rating and misinformation they gave us during the campaign), and she will basically undo all the right women enjoy right now. Women defending this woman is puzzling to me.

    Take a serious look at the character you are defending/endorsing. The woman is basically crazy. Don't just get caught up in the hype surrounding her...think of what she really stands for. WAKE UP!!!!

    April 17, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  25. Had It

    Imagine Christmas at the WH with all the Palin Clan there.

    Power abusers; drug users and sellers; burglars with their children in tow; etc. etc.

    No thanks. That is an unnecessary risk.

    April 17, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
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