McCain adviser who vetted Sarah Palin weighs in on veepstakes process

Chris Moody

The adviser who led the team that vetted Sarah Palin for John McCain's presidential bid in 2008 said Wednesday that even though the GOP ticket lost that election, he stands by the axiom "high risk, high reward."

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, A.B. Culvahouse, an attorney who has helped vet Republican vice presidential candidates in four election cycles, wrote that while the process of appraising Palin was brief, it was thorough.

"I advised Sen. McCain that because her duties had never encompassed foreign policy or defense issues Gov. Palin would not be ready to be vice president on Jan. 20, 2009—but that I believed she had the presence and wherewithal to grow into the position," he wrote. "I summed up her selection as 'high risk, high reward.' I stand by that advice."

The necessary scrutiny of potential running mates and investigation of their backgrounds can be awkward for all parties involved. Culvahouse describes the imperative of asking a battery of questions so personal, he "would not dream of posing [them] in any other context."

"Short-listed potential VP nominees are required to hand over tax returns, medical histories, financial statements, court records, and anything else labeled 'private and confidential,' while also answering the most probing questions about themselves, their spouses, their children and their extended family," Culvahouse wrote. "We asked about infidelity, sexual harassment, discrimination, plagiarism, alcohol or drug addiction, delinquent taxes, credit history, and use of government positions or resources for personal benefit. Nothing was off-limits."

Culvahouse added that even though possible nominees act publicly coy about their prospects early in the process, he predicts few would turn down the opportunity to be vetted by the Romney campaign.

Read the entire op-ed.

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