In his recent New York Times Magazine piece on the McCain campaign, Robert Draper reveled that Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) pick of Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) “may have been even more impulsive than initially thought.”
Draper explained that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was strongly urging McCain to pick Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT). At the “last minute,” however, McCain strategist Steve Schmidt and campaign manager Rick Davis convinced McCain to pick Palin:
The evening of Aug. 24, Schmidt and Davis, after leaving the Ritz-Carlton meeting, showed up at McCain’s condominium in Phoenix. They informed McCain that in their view, Palin would be the best pick. “You never know where his head is,” Davis told me three weeks later. “He doesn’t betray a lot. He’s a great poker player. But he picked up the phone.” Reached at the Alaska State Fair, Palin listened as McCain for the first time discussed the possibility of selecting her as his running mate.
Schmidt’s enthusiasm for Palin seems to have waned significantly in the last days of the election. Yesterday, reporters on the McCain campaign plane asked Schmidt if the campaign was “happy” with the Palin pick. Schmidt couldn’t bring himself to say “yes“:
Q: And the pick of Palin for you guys? Are you happy with that?
SCHMIDT: You know, we’ll uh, I’m not going to do, there’ll be time for all the postmortems in the race.
Q: But are you happy with what she’s done for the ticket?
SCHMIDT: I think that, you know, I think we’ll know in a few hours what the results are, you know and I, there’ll be a time for all the postmortem parts of it. That’s not this afternoon before the polls close.
Schmidt went so far last night as to “veto” Palin’s request to offer a few words to the crowd after McCain conceded the election. Politco’s Mike Allen reports on a forthcoming Newsweek article, “Palin asked to speak along with McCain at his Arizona concession speech Tuesday night, but campaign strategist Steve Schmidt vetoed the request.”