No Surprises From Palin, McCain Team Says
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
ST. PAUL, Minn., Sept. 1 -- Before she was chosen to be Sen. John McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin submitted to a three-hour interview with the head of his vice presidential search team, and responded to a 70-question form that included "intrusive personal questions," a senior campaign aide said Monday.
The aide said all facts about Palin's record and background that have caused controversy as they were revealed in the past few days -- including the ongoing "troopergate" investigation and the fact that Palin's 17-year-old daughter is pregnant -- were known to the McCain campaign. Washington lawyer Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr. led the search team.
"Nothing that has come out did not come out in the vet. She was fully vetted," the senior aide said.
Until last week, Palin was relatively unknown outside Alaska, and as facts have dribbled out about her, the McCain campaign has insisted that its examination of her background was thorough and that nothing that has come out about her was a surprise. "John had access to all that information and made the decision," campaign manager Rick Davis said last week in describing the vetting process.
The process included what aides described as a full search of public documents and videos of her speeches. That included a review of Alaska newspapers, but not Palin's local newspaper because aides worried that going through back issues would indicate that she was under consideration to be McCain's running mate.
Among the things that turned up during the vetting process: her husband's arrest for driving under the influence more than two decades ago; the ticket that she once received for fishing without a license; her daughter's pregnancy; and a report that she had supported Pat Buchanan for president in 1996, which she denied at the time.
Her name, along with others, was submitted to the FBI under a routine inquiry into whether she was the subject of a criminal investigation.
The aide denied reports that a team of a dozen McCain staffers has traveled to Alaska to do further investigation of Palin's background. The adviser confirmed the team is there, but said it would have had a similar assignment whomever McCain had chosen. The team, under the direction of Deputy Communications Director Taylor Griffin, is in Palin's home state to establish contact with her staff, coordinate questions from the national media and fight back against "smears" on the Internet about her background, the aide said.
Palin made the announcement about her daughter in a carefully worded statement issued by the McCain campaign Monday morning. The statement said Bristol Palin plans to deliver the baby and marry the father. Palin, who has said she supports teaching abstinence and opposes sex education in public schools, pleaded for privacy and understanding, identifying the father only as Levi.
"Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family," she said. "We ask the media to respect our daughter and Levi's privacy as has always been the tradition of children of candidates."
The campaign confirmed Monday night that the father's full name is Levi Johnston, 17, a high school student in Wasilla, Alaska.
The announcement came less than a week after McCain introduced Palin, casting her as an all-American mother with five children and a husband, Todd, who is a champion snowmachine racer. Her biography, which includes her giving birth to a son, Trig, with Down syndrome in mid-April, has been touted as a key part of her appeal, especially to conservatives.