Chief strategist for McCain campaign on Sarah Palin: “Manifestly unprepared to take the oath of office”

Chief strategist for McCain campaign on Sarah Palin:  “Manifestly unprepared to take the oath of office”

Steve Schmidt – chief strategist for Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign – is a plain-spoken and direct man. This morning he appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and asked for his thoughts on HBO’s movie “Game Change.”

With blunt honesty, Schmidt spoke about the selection of Sarah Palin as McCain’s vice presidential nominee and his role in that decision:

“It’s a story of when cynicism and idealism collide, when you have to do the things that are necessary to win to try to get in office to do the great things you want to do for the country,” Schmidt said. “And I think it showed a process of vetting that was debilitated by secrecy, that was compartmentalized, that failed, that led to a result that was reckless for the country. And I think when you look back at that race, you see this person who is just so phenomenally talented at so many levels, an ability to connect. But also someone who had a lot of flaws as someone running to be in the national command authority who clearly wasn’t prepared.”

“Politically, she was a net positive to the campaign,” Schmidt said of the former Alaska governor. But she was a “net negative” because “someone was nominated to the vice presidency who was manifestly unprepared to take the oath of office should it become necessary and as it has become necessary many times in American history.”

“For me and the experience I had on this campaign is that there are worse things than losing,” Schmidt said. When he was asked to spell that out, he said, “When a result happens that puts someone who’s not prepared to be president on the ticket, that’s a bad result. I think the notion of Sarah Palin being president of the United States is something that frightens me, frankly. And I played a part in that. And I played a part in that because we were fueled by ambition to win.”

Andrea Mitchell asked Schmidt whether he thought Palin had a future as a national leader in the GOP:

“I hope not,” he said. “And the reason I say that is because if you look at, over the last four years, all of the deficiencies in knowledge, all the deficiencies in preparedness, she’s done not one thing to rectify them, to correct them. She has become a person who I think is filled with grievance, filled with anger who has a divisive message for the national stage when we need leaders in both parties to have a unifying message. . . . The lack of preparedness was a bad thing and the total disinterest in being more prepared and rectifying that is something that disqualifies.”