McCain knew Palin’s daughter pregnant
September 1, 2008
ST. PAUL – Sen. John McCain knew that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s teenage daughter was pregnant when he picked her for his running mate – he had learned about it in a private conservation with Palin last week, according to McCain’s chief campaign strategist.
But campaign chief Steve Schmidt, calling it a “private family matter,” says the campaign only decided to disclose the pregnancy when “smear” rumors started surfacing on the Internet. He suggested somewhat ruefully today that once word got out, the media could not be trusted to handle the matter with “decency.”
It should have no bearing either on the race or Palin’s ability to serve as vice president, he said.
“Life happens in families,” Schmidt told reporters crowding around him in the basement of the arena where the Republican National Convention is opening today. “If people try to politicize this, the American people would be appalled by it.”
The campaign was forced to disclose the information, the manager suggested in his talk with reporters here.
“We knew that Gov. Palin’s daughter was pregnant,” Schmidt said, “and there were frankly a lot of disturbing, nasty smears moving around on the Internet.” So the family decided to issue a statement today.
“You have hope on issues like this that our very coarse media culture will act with some level of decency,” he said. “The fact is that’s probably a naïve view.”
The campaign also knew that Palin’s husband Todd, a commercial fishermen, had been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol 24 years ago, Schmidt said, and also decided that should have no bearing on her candidacy.
McCain learned about the pregnancy in a private meeting with Palin, Schmidt said. “It was a private conversation. Sen. McCain was aware of this private family matter… He became aware of it last week.”
Schmidt wouldn’t specify whether Palin volunteered the information, but he did agree that it would have been an inappropriate question for McCain to ask Palin – indeed perhaps an “illegal” question in the course of a “job interview.”
The campaign is playing it as a private matter that was disclosed today and will not be raised again.
“The children deserve to be left alone,” Schmidt said. “Her daughter has made a decision to have this child. She’ll get married. Like any young couple with a child, it’s hard….
“She’s proud of her family and she loves her daughter”
Will the daughter’s pregnancy have any bearing on Palin’s ability to serve as McCain’s running mate?
“I think your question is offensive,” Schmidt said to a reporter asking the question. “It’s a private family matter. The notion that that would bear on her capacity to be vice president is demeaning. I don’t think you would ask that question if she was a man.”
Along a similar line, Schmidt was asked if the increasing burden of a family that now will have an added grandchild of a teenage daughter could be too much for the vice president, should McCain and Palin win election.
“I can’t imagine that question being asked of a man,” Schmidt said. “It’s offensive.”
So we asked Schmidt this: Some critics are suggesting that McCain would not have tapped Palin for running mate, given her credentials and experience, if she were a man.
“It’s a really interesting question – I’m fascinated by it,” Schmidt replied. “She is, by any objective experience, more accomplished than Sen. Obama…. We’ll stack up her accomplishments against his any day of the week… Governors run things.”
McCain is happy with his pick, the strategist says.
“John McCain found his partner, and she is somebody who’s going to clean up Washington,” Schmidt said. “The American people are going to make a decision on who to vote for based on who’s relevant to their lives.”
“The fact is that John McCain made a thorough search… and made a decision,” Schmidt said. “And Sarah Palin is going to help him clean up America.”
The running mate will be talking to delegates here about reforming government, the campaign manager said.
“You have a system that is broken,” Schmidt said. “The American system is on the wrong track and she’ll talk about cleaning it up… She’ll also communicate to the American people about who she is… She’s somebody who’s going to be able to talk very effectively about some of the challenges Americans face.”