The Washington Post

Cheney calls Palin selection for vice president in 2008 ‘a mistake’

Sarah Palin speaks to a crowd of about 1,000 Ted Cruz supporters on Friday in The Woodlands, Texas. The former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee addressed more than 1,000 sweating, enthusiastic supporters of tea party favorite and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz. (Johnny Hanson/AP)

Former vice president Richard B. Cheney said the selection of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2008 was “a mistake” — the sort of mistake Mitt Romney should avoid.

In an interview with ABC News, Cheney said Sen. John McCain’s choice of the relatively inexperienced Palin was one “I don’t think was well handled.”

In choosing a running mate, Cheney said, “there are two lists. There is the big list. And it’s got a lot of folks on it.”

To make the smaller list, he said, “the test . . . has to be, ‘Is this person capable of being president of the United States?’ ”

Putting electoral considerations over qualifications is not wise, Cheney told ABC’s Jon Karl in an interview from Cheney’s ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyo., to be aired Monday on ABC news programs and on “Nightline.”

“Those are important issues, but they should never be allowed to override that first proposition. That was one of the problems McCain had,” Cheney said.

“I like Governor Palin,” Cheney said of the former Alaska governor. “I’ve met her. I know her. . . . Attractive candidate. But based on her background, she’d only been governor for, what, two years. I don’t think she passed that test . . . of being ready to take over. And I think that was a mistake.”

McCain (R-Ariz.), asked about Cheney’s comments during a television appearance Monday morning, responded with a sarcastic dig at the former vice president’s support for harsh tactics in questioning suspected terrorists.

“I’m always glad to get comments four years later,” McCain quipped to Fox News. “Look, I respect the vice president. He and I had strong disagreements as to whether we should torture people or not. I don’t think we should have.”

Cheney, who is recovering from heart transplant surgery in March, is an old hand at vetting vice-presidential aspirants. He helped Gerald R. Ford and George W. Bush in their searches. He then became Bush’s vice president, serving two terms.

Four years ago, Romney lost out to Palin in the veepstakes. This year Palin, who flirted with a 2012 presidential run, is not believed to be under consideration as a potential running mate. She has not responded to Cheney’s comments.

Romney has told confidants that he does not want to put a candidate through an intensive review unless he is considering him or her for the job.

Ellen Nakashima is a national security reporter for The Washington Post. She focuses on issues relating to intelligence, technology and civil liberties.
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