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How McCain Picked Palin

Jonathan Martin plugged this speech from A.B. Culvahouse, the head of Sen. John McCain’s 2008 vice presidential vetting project, and it was a fascinating look into how such decisions are made. Point one: Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) was seriously enough considered by McCain for the vetters to look into state “sore loser” laws that would impact a ticket that included a party-switcher. They would have mandated a trip to the Supreme Court, so Lieberman was essentially ruled out.

Culvahouse also detailed which stumper questions the top VP choices were asked, including whether they were ready to use nuclear weapons and whether they would take a shot at Osama bin Laden even if it meant the death of civilians. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin “hit them out of the park,” said Culvahouse, without saying what the correct answers were.

He said, mysteriously, that other candidates had not performed as well: that means at least one possible 2012 candidate like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney or Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty might have lost out at this stage of the process.

Culvahouse was blunt about Palin’s ability to serve as president: “I don’t think she would have been ready on Jan. 20, but few people would.” At the end of his interview, he informed McCain that Palin would be a “high risk, high reward” pick for the job. McCain’s response?

You shouldn’t have told me that. I’ve been a risk-taker all my life.

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