October 15th, 2009
10:57 AM ET
13 years ago

Schmidt defends choice of Palin for VP

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/15/art.schmidt1.gi.jpg caption="Schmidt is defending John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin."](CNN) - Ten days after declaring Sarah Palin would be "catastrophic" to the Republican Party should she become its standard bearer in 2012, former McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt defended the choice of the former Alaska governor for the No. 2 spot on the GOP's presidential ticket last year.

"I believe to this day that had she not been picked as the vice presidential candidate, we would never have been ahead - not for one second, not for one minute, not for one hour, not for one day," Schmidt told students at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service Wednesday, according to the Web site Arkansasnews.com.

A CNN poll of polls immediately following the Republican National Convention in September 2008 showed the McCain/Palin ticket with a 2-point lead over its Democratic counterpart. But a similiar poll of polls two weeks later suggested that lead quickly evaporated.

Schmidt, among those in the campaign who lobbied McCain to pick Palin as his running mate, suggested Wednesday that President Obama's decisive win had more to do with the economy than either member of the Republican presidential ticket.

"We were three points ahead on September 15 when the stock market crashed, and then the election was over," he said.

Still, tensions ran deep between Schmidt and Palin through the campaign's final stretch, and Schmidt told CNN's John King earlier this month he's not expecting a flattering portrayal in the Alaska Republican's upcoming book, "Going Rogue."

"I think it may say that I was anti-rogue in the running of the campaign," Schmidt said.

In his Wednesday comments, Schmidt also cautioned Republican politicians not to follow the dictates of conservative talk radio hosts.

"Republican politicians who seek to lead the party, and in fact seek to lead the government, cannot be seen as kowtowing to the emperors of talk radio," he said. "If they are, then I think the broad middle of the electorate that decides elections disqualifies them from leadership."

Filed under: Sarah Palin • Steve Schmidt
soundoff (108 Responses)
  1. Enough

    Theres no need to defend her, the problem wasn't Palin it was McCain, he was a horrible choice and ran a lousy campaign. Quit blaming Palin for the McCain disaster. The media is responsible for putting Obama in the white house, they were all over Alaska, but ignored all the obvious problems Obama would pose if people knew more about him.

    October 15, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. Once Upon a Horse

    hmmm...he must have gotten a 2am phone call from Boss Limbaugh and now he's backtracking like all GOPers do when they hear from Rush.

    October 15, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  3. Give Me A Break

    McCain/Palin crashed not because of the stock market (although that didn't help), but because it only took a few weeks for the voters to realize that the carefully scripted Palin at the convention bore little resemblance to the bumbling backwater bozette of reality. Yes, people were (initially) excited at the *idea* of a highly qualified woman being nominated for a national ticket....unfortunately, that dream still remains unfulfilled.....

    October 15, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    Whether she's qualified is an entirely different issue than whether the morons in the GOP would vote for her. Don't confuse it. They'd vote for a drunk dude in a leprachaun outfit if he yelled "tax cuts," "trust croporate america," "be afraid of brown people," "soshulizm" and "tax and spend liberal" loud enough.

    October 15, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  5. Dave C - NJ

    A real conservative would have won? lol...on what planet?

    October 15, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  6. gl, From Pittsburgh

    He is just like Steele they like say one thing and the next day back peddle.

    October 15, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  7. SLM

    Palin was and is more qualified to run this country than "Present" Obama. She understands business, Obama understands Fund raising and spending money we don't have.

    October 15, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  8. jody in NY

    You can't have it both ways saying she was ok for the VP but not ok for president. Yes she would destroy the republican party.

    October 15, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  9. Beverly - NYC

    Sound like someone got the "If you ever want to work again" phone call. Your were right the first time Steve, Palin is not the future of the GOP. The only reason for the 2 point bounce was the interest in the new "hot chick", and her winks. I recall the morning the news leaked that Palin was the VP choice, news anchors and political hacks had no idea who she was and had to be informed she was the Governor of Alaska. Instead of standing up to the money bag fringe in your party who didn't was Joe Lieberman, you went to the other extreme and choose a know nothing hick, with a family worthy of a Jerrry Springer episode. As a democrat, you have my eternal thanks.

    October 15, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  10. Dee, 1 Vote

    Mr. S was you the leader of McCain, or was you a not !?

    October 15, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  11. gl, From Pittsburgh

    A real conservative just don't get it. McCain lost becasue of Sara Palin who was more of a conservative then McCain was and stupid real conservative believe you have to become more conservative next time.


    October 15, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  12. Shucks

    Wrong. Once she opened her mouth the poll numbers dropped. The economy may have had something to do with it, but once Americans started seeing the type of people that were waiting in line to see her, they realized that she was going to be a favorite of the gun loving, bible thumping, racist faction of American society, and did everything they could to ensure a republican defeat. Quit making excuses for your not vetting her as a candidate like you should have.

    October 15, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  13. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    can GOP ever admit a mistake? guess not.... Palin was and is a disaster waiting to happen.

    October 15, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  14. Limp-Dick Blimpaugh

    Afterall Palin and Limp-Dick are still fighting on who should be the most racist lunatic to run the GOP.

    October 15, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  15. Idealistic Idiot

    Letterman has it right:

    Things I'd rather do than read her book:

    23: eat the eye from a Yak carcass.

    22: cook your head in a microwave.

    October 15, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  16. Al-NY,NY

    This guy got a call from the GOP Feuhrer Rush so he changed his mind

    October 15, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  17. Renee, PA

    There is no defense for putting this woman so close to the Oval Office. What if she had been elected and John McCain had died. We'd be in so much trouble right now.

    Ding, dong the witch is politically dead. Thank God.

    October 15, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  18. Nick

    Sarah Palin was (and would be) a bad choice. She deepens the divisions in America by demonizing everyone who does not agree with her. We need a real statesman (or woamn) who can unite rather than divide the US of A.

    October 15, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  19. John,Black Hills/SD

    Why doesn't Schmidt consider being honest, you made a mistake with Palin, she was the anti-Hillary, just as Steele was lifted to his position only after Obama was the Democratic candidate. The GOP is clueless, the only bright spot is for shoe sales since GOP members have to buy two pairs of the same shoes because the third shoe is in their mouths, and the fourth shoe rests where the sun doesn't shine.

    October 15, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  20. JFK

    It was a bad choice and Schmidt should admit it. Palin as VP was a stunt but lets be real, anyone with common sense knows that McCain did not want this job that bad. You could see it in his passionless behavior and his poor choices throughout the campaign. Besides, now he and Republicans can bad mouth Obama at every turn while Obama has the courage to fix the the mess we were left with. Its so easy for conservatives and McCain to bash Obama while they do nothing to offer real alternatives.

    October 15, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. Andrea

    They were never ahead of anything.

    October 15, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  22. SLM

    The choice of Biden for VP is the one that needs defending!

    October 15, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  23. keith A. sillsbury

    you just don't get it. palin is a loser and cost you a close race once she opened her mouth, but mccain still would not have won anyway. he's not qulified or smart enough and she is just a bimbo who can barley rub two brain cells together. once she started talking WOW, you couldn't shut her up fast enough. The right man was pick for the job by the majority and will enjoy another term after this one. an even better one because the GOstoPo will have lost even more seats due to the lack of doing anything for the people because their bought and paid for by wall street.

    October 15, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  24. susanj

    Typical Republican – talking out of both sides of his mouth – and out of both sides is a lie. Absolutely no truth in anything they say.

    October 15, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  25. Mickey, NY

    Flip flop Republican...

    October 15, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
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