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. Ted

    Unbelievable that these people who vetted Palin 'came away impressed'. Exactly what were they thinking and considering? Palin is an absolute idiot who I wouldn't vote for dog catcher. It goes to show that McCain surrounded himself with equally incompetent and ignorant people. Thank god a majority of Americans voted for Obama. We are much better off with Joe Biden being a heartbeat away from the presidency than this idiot Palin.

    April 17, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  2. mimi

    Why is it that the total disregard that the Republicans have for the good tand well-being of this country and of the world continues to surprise and sicken me.

    "She is a shooter", and that's all it takes to impress a bunch of Republican lawyers, and John McCain.

    God help us, and he did on Nov. 11.

    April 17, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  3. Rickymo

    Who cares why? They are both losers. Looking forward with Obama not back with losers!

    April 17, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  4. Jordan

    You keep forgetting the number one reason McCain selected Palin–she was the only candidate shorter than he was; selecting Romney might have elicited laughter as they stood together onstage, with McCain climbing up on a box.

    April 17, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  5. RWE

    she wasn't picked to get the votes of the self proclaimed intellectuals on this message board. she was picked to attract rational and informed americans.

    the media went into overdrive to destroy her, because she was a threat to their beloved barry, who could do no wrong in their eyes. sitting in the church of a biggot for 20 years was ignored.

    April 17, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  6. Serving Our Country

    Its disheartning to know that our Prez had less experience than the Rep. VP pick. She has been an extremely successful govenor. We ended up with the least experienced person as president. A known drug user. That speaks alot for his intelligence and common sense. Qualities that Palin surely surpasses him in both categories. Even the layperson can see that.

    April 17, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  7. Viet Vet

    @ That other Jerry- -Well said my man!

    April 17, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  8. Emma P

    The fact that the head of McCain's vetting team actually said "Me and two of my most cynical partners interviewed her and we came away impressed," instead of "Two of my most cynical partners and I..." tells me that the vetting team was inadequate from the get-go. How could they determine whether the potential candidate had the communication skills needed for such an important role when they don't know what those skills are?

    April 17, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  9. STLouisGal

    Me and two of my most cynical partners...

    Yikes! Very telling that the person who felt so strongly about Sarah Palin uses improper grammar. No wonder he liked her so much!

    April 17, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  10. Take His Stripes

    What ever license, degreee, credentials Mr. Culvahouse has they should be REVOKED.

    In an environment, even last June/ July where people were condeming McCain for his lack of knowledge on the economy, Mitt Romney was the smart choice.

    If McCain had done that and taken a risk by resisting the Bush Administrations TARP / Bailout plan ..... John McCain would have at least had a chance.

    Based on the decision making and judgements that Mr. McCain and his advisors, like Mr. Culvahouse made, I KNOW we have the best man in the WHITE HOUSE today.

    April 17, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  11. deb

    Unbelievable! This guy just can't admit he made a mistake...a HUGE one! Come on, buddy, any idiot can see Palin is the joke of the century!

    April 17, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  12. Kim

    Hard to believe that this crack team of vetters didn't pick up on the problematic issues of their choice for a candidate. Did they not even put her in front of a camera to see how she'd respond during interviews? I think she was vetted because she was a pretty present all tied up with ribbons to attempt to draw the female vote, appease the pro-life crowd, and create a youthful looking contrast to tired old McCain. And face it, the Republicans were desperate. Too bad no one was smart enough to unwrap the present and see there was nothing but trouble in the box. High risk, no kidding!!

    April 17, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  13. Dr.G.

    Isn't the important question who vetted Culvahouse? Since this was Amateur hour they were probably all vetted by Ted Mack.....McCain along with his menagerie..Joe the whatsis, Rufus T. Culvahouse and Calamity Jane..and you fellows in the press take their shenanigans seriously.

    Weren't 8 years of embarrassment enough.

    April 17, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |

    What the hell, ever!. The Republicans are impressed with her!
    Well, I am not!! And, they are also impressed with themselves!!!!
    Most of America cannot be fooled by all of their nonsense.

    April 17, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  15. Patrick

    They were right she was both. She brought out HUGE crowds but also turned off a lot of people. I wanted him to pick Lieberman but I'm not sure if the results would have been different.

    April 17, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |

    I like BO!!!!!! Much Better!!!

    April 17, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  17. Fani from NJ

    So what were her answers that were "knocked out of the park".

    Here's my guess –

    1. nukes – you betcha
    2. VP role – supreme leader and President position coveter. And doggone it, you do get to use Nukes
    3. take out osama with civilians – you betcha. With Nukes.

    I can see now why these Republicans are doomed. They have no brains.
    They pale in comparison to the true Presidential materials – Obama and Biden.
    Look at their new picks – Jindal (flip-flopper clueless guy), Steele ( scared behinds-kisser ), Perry ( anti-American seceeder ), Crist ( buffoon ), Coleman ( sore loser ) etc... etc.. etc..

    Republican party is doomed for at least a decade. But young ones like Meghan McCain are some hope for that party. She's smart and balanced.

    April 17, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  18. ReaganTMan

    Just ask yourself one question: what if Joe Biden was Sarah Palin? Would the media treated him differently? Biden is really the one we need to worry about being ready for prime time. Sarah would have already knocked it out of the park if she was VP.

    I'd also be concerned about a president who has a revolt on his hands and he hasn't even been in office for 3 months.

    April 17, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  19. Texas Girl

    So we Ameican's deserved a "high risk" candidate so John McCain could get his "reward"?!?! You've got to be kidding me. Mr. McCain you should be ashamed of yourself.

    We're aren't your prize. We never will be.

    April 17, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  20. Serving Our Country

    Well Palin would make a nice choice for Pres. Smart, articulate, and conservative.

    She'll be the second female president. Pelosi is already the first. It ain't Obama, he's following her lead until he learns the job.

    As a soldier, we need leadership now. Not a President that gets led around.

    April 17, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  21. bill

    all you koolaid drinking Palin bashing people arent very bright. all you base your views on is your left wing idealogy and how the media has portrayed Palin along with the rest of the "right". It is beyond obvious the media is left wing and paints people how they want them to be seen. As seen by that reporter during the tea-party in Chicago as one example, CNN is left no doubt about along with NBC, MSNBC, ABC, CBS etc etc etc. Palin wouldnt be where she is if she was a very bright person and if she was as bad as you all say, the left wouldnt be trying to tear her down at every chance they get.

    April 17, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  22. JeanA

    Gov. Palin give a dynamic and inspirational speech at the Right to Life dinner. She spoke for 40 plus minutes without a teleprompter. The media is still in sock about the speech. There was nothing the media could bash her on about the speech so instead of talking about how powerful the speech was for Right to Life cause, they decided to bash her on other things. AP – Palin had a couple of bad days back in Alaska…BaBaBaBa… but had a good day in Indiana, BS like that.

    Enough is enough with the lies from the corrupt MSM. They are so scared of this woman that it is to the point of hysterical.

    I suggest everyone view the speech on You Tube. You will understand the media’s dilemma and the hypocrisy.

    April 17, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  23. deb

    God help us if Americans EVER thought that Palin was a viable candidate! Fortunately there are thinking, educated people out there who could see that this woman was narrowminded, meanspirited and just plain stupid! She couldn't put a complete sentence together let alone actually say anything that made sense. I guess the GOP was so used to Bush that they didn't notice!

    April 17, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  24. rico

    It has been five and a half months since the election. Enough already! Get over it! There has been less reporting on McCain than this dumb hick. Why are you covering anything having to do with her?!

    April 17, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  25. Helena

    I guess he didn't know she lies. She can't possibly write anything because she speaks with word salads. Some of her sentences are 58-60 scrambled words long. He thought/speech process is ridiculous. This is probably why she failed to have any more interviews after the first 2 disasters. Her speeches , although delivered well, are not her words. Her intelligence level would destroy a country and is slowly damaging her state. Just read the adn.com political web site and the Mudflats blog if you want to know her true persona.

    April 17, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
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