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McCain defends Palin background check

Republican John McCain said Tuesday he's satisfied that Sarah Palin's background was properly checked before the Alaska governor joined the Republican ticket. He predicted that public excitement about her candidacy will increase after her address to the GOP convention tonight.

“The vetting process was completely thorough and I'm grateful for the results,” he said.

Later, after visiting a firehouse outside Cleveland, McCain said: “I just want to repeat again how excited I am to have Sarah Palin, the great governor of Alaska, as my running mate.”

In St. Paul, Minn., campaign advisers defended the Palin review. They said that as part of the review, Palin filled out a 70-question survey with questions that included: Have you ever paid for sex? Have you been faithful in your marriage? Have you ever used or purchased drugs? Have you ever downloaded pornography?

Questions about the thoroughness of Palin's review came up after news surfaced that her unmarried teenage daughter, Bristol, is pregnant, and that the Alaska governor has retained a private attorney to represent her in an investigation into the firing of the state public safety commissioner.

The lawyer who conducted the background review said Palin voluntarily told McCain's campaign about Bristol's pregnancy, and about her husband's 2-decade-old DWI arrest.

Palin also greatly detailed the dismissal of the state's public safety commissioner that has touched off a legislative investigation, Arthur Culvahouse Jr. told The Associated Press in an interview Monday.

Palin underwent a “full and complete” background examination before McCain chose her as his running mate, Culvahouse said. Asked whether everything that came up as a possible red flag during the review already has been made public, he said: “I think so. Yeah, I think so. Correct.”

McCain's campaign has been trying to tamp down questions about whether his team adequately researched his surprise vice presidential selection.

“Sure, there is concern about how much vetting was done,” said Rick Santorum, a conservative Republican and former Pennsylvania senator. “But I don't think that anything that's been brought up right now hurts her at all and it may, in many respects, enhance her.”

Since McCain publicly disclosed his running mate Friday, the notion of a shoddy, rushed review has been stoked repeatedly.

A campaign-issued timeline said McCain initially met Palin in February, then held one phone conversation with her last week before inviting her to Arizona, where he met with her a second time and offered her the job Thursday.