John McCain does not want to talk about the 2008 presidential election, or any of the intrigue that's followed--a fact he made clear in an interview with Matt Lauer this morning on "Today," in which he said he "wouldn't know" whether reporting on his vice-presidential vetting efforts was accurate.
Asked by Lauer whether Hark Halperin and John Heileman, authors of the new '08 campaign book "Game Change," were accurate in reporting that the vetting of Sarah Palin was woefully inadequate--that no one on the McCain team had talked to her husband or political enemies--McCain said that he wouldn't know whether that was accurate. Here's how the exchange went:
Lauer: One [item reported in "Game Change"] is that your vetting process for Governor Palin, before choosing her as your running mate, was wholly inadequate. From page 363, it says, and I'm combining two quotes here, in judging Palin, 'was relying on vetting so hasty and haphazard it barely merited the name.' 'No one had interviewed her husband, no one had spoken to her political enemies, no vetters had descended on Alaska.' Is it a fair assessment?
McCain: I wouldn't know. The fact is that I'm proud of Sarah Palin, I'm proud of the campaign we waged, she energized our party, she will be a major factor in American politics in the future, and I'm proud of our campaign--
As the candidate, one would assume McCain
was aware of, if not so directly involved in, the vice presidential
vetting process; it's unclear from his comments to Lauer whether he
simply delegated the vetting process and took a hands-off approach, or
whether he just doesn't want to talk about the campaign--though, in
either case, the latter appears to be true. After a mildly contentious
exchange over the importance of revisiting 2008, Lauer
asks McCain what he meant by "I wouldn't know":
Matt: But your comment that you just said, "I wouldn't know," is somewhat surprising to me. You were the presidential candidate.
McCain: Look, I wouldn't know what the sources are, nor care. I do know--I do know that I'm proud of my campaign, I'm proud of Sarah Palin, I'm proud of the job that we did, and I will always be grateful for having her has my running mate and the support we got from millions of Americans. Okay? I am not gonna spend time looking back over what happened over a year ago when we've got two wars to fight, 10 percent unemployment in my state, and things to do. I'm sorry, you'll have to get others to comment on it.
McCain also said other people "have a right to" comment on the campaign; most recently, former campaign adviser Steve Schmidt, in an interview with "60 Minutes," portrayed an unprepared and truth-challenged Palin as a weight on the campaign after her successful convention speech.
See the interview with Lauer here: