John McCain's presidential campaign did not speak with the Alaska House speaker and other leading Republicans before McCain tapped Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.
The low-profile vetting allowed McCain to spring Palin onto the national scene uncolored by media scrutiny. But it has left the campaign open to criticism that McCain did not fully explore her qualifications.
“I haven't heard of anybody being contacted, not that that's bad,” said John Harris, speaker of the state House of Representatives. “I just haven't heard of anybody.”
The subject is now closed, said McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds.
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“Gov. Palin was fully vetted as previously described, and we are no longer commenting on the vetting process,” Bounds said Friday. “She was selected, is qualified and is ready to serve.”
Palin has been elusive when it comes to many reporters' inquiries, though aides say she has spoken with radio and newspaper reporters from Alaska.
Attorney Arthur Culvahouse Jr. led the review and said Palin underwent a “full and complete” examination.
But Harris, state Senate President Lyda Green and GOP Chairman Randy Ruedrich said no one called them in advance to talk about the governor.
It was the same story at one of Palin's previous elected offices. Mary Bixby, executive assistant to Wasilla Mayor Dianne Keller, said no one contacted the office for information about Palin before her selection.
Since the announcement, the only attention had been from reporters.
Culvahouse said Palin's review, like others, began with two dozen people sifting through information from public sources: speeches, financial records, tax information, litigation, investigations, ethical charges, marriages and divorces.
For Palin, the team studied online archives of the state's largest newspapers, including the Anchorage Daily News.
Palin answered a personal data questionnaire with 70 “very intrusive” questions, Culvahouse said, and was asked to submit years of tax returns. Culvahouse conducted a lengthy interview.
“They obviously felt like they did enough research and were comfortable,” Harris said.
Henry Brady, professor of political science and public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, said Friday that campaigns should be more diligent about examining the record and background of lesser-known candidates than well-known ones.
“Any sensible due diligence would include not just looking at the public record, not just looking at the newspaper, but also talking to people,” he said.