McCain Says Palin Didn't Hurt Presidential Bid

In his first interview since conceding the presidential election, John McCain said Tuesday that Sarah Palin did not damage his presidential bid and he dismissed anonymous criticism aimed at her following their crushing defeat.

"I'm so proud of her and I'm very grateful she agreed to run with me. She inspired people, she still does," McCain told Jay Leno during a "Tonight Show" interview taped for broadcast Tuesday night. "I couldn't be happier with Sarah Palin."

In an interview that mingled flashes of humor with political analysis, McCain did little to deflect responsibility from himself. He alluded to the difficult political environment for Republicans nationwide and conceded, "I could tell you a lot of things that we may have made mistakes on." He never listed them.

"So, that's the way it is," he added.

Asked by Leno to address griping about Palin from unidentified McCain operatives in the days following the election, the Arizona senator said, "These things happen in campaigns.

"I think I have at least a thousand, quote, top advisers," he scoffed. "A top adviser said? ... I've never even heard of ... a top adviser or a high-ranking Republican official."

However, McCain never directly addressed the embarrassing controversy over Palin's expensive campaign wardrobe purchased by the Republican National Committee, or statements by unidentified McCain aides who have reportedly said she was not prepared on foreign policy or other issues. The Alaska governor has said in interviews she did not ask for, or want, the $150,000-plus wardrobe for her and her family.

McCain also disputed that a different vice presidential pick would have changed the outcome against Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden. And when asked if Palin drifted off the campaign's message, he responded, "Did you expect mavericks to stay on message?"

At campaign rallies, "The people were very excited and inspired by her. That's what really mattered, I think," McCain said. "She's a great reformer."

McCain's appearance at Leno's Burbank studio was scheduled to coincide with Veterans Day. It was the former naval aviator's 14th appearance on "The Tonight Show" but his first TV interview as a vanquished presidential candidate.

While shielding Palin from blame, McCain also steered around a suggestion that skewed media coverage tilted the election toward Obama. "One thing I think Americans don't want is a sore loser," he said.

"I knew I had a headwind. I can read the polls," he said, in an obvious reference to a political climate soured by an economic crisis and unpopular Republican president and war.

What's this say about the GOP brand?

The "party has a lot of work to do. We just got back from the woodshed," he said.

On a day when McCain reflected on his loss, Palin talked about the future.

In a series of national TV interviews, Palin attributed the ticket's defeat to the troubled economy and Bush administration policies and indirectly put her name in play as a possible future presidential candidate.

What about another campaign for McCain, who will be 76 years old in 2012?

"I wouldn't think so," McCain told Leno, with a hint of resignation in his voice. "We are going to have another generation of leaders come along."


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  • by BLAKE STALLINGS Location: GREENVILLE on Nov 12, 2008 at 12:21 PM
    I've read all the posts and some I agree with and some I don't. First I feel that she was a perfectly fine choice. What makes her NOT a good choicce. Can't say inexperience because what more does our presidental-elect have? Next i saw someone pointed out the fact that she was sarcastic. Maybe she had some sarcastic comments but come on Biden was equally as smart and sarcastic. That's what poiltics are, arguing and complaining with a little sarcasm. Just like a bunch of high schoolers. I also saw someone point out she wa attacked from the beginning. AMEN! She was given a hard time from the start and no one wanted to give her a chance. I think she did fantastic considering what she was asked to enter into. She had nothing to do with his losing. His loss mainly stemmed from ignorant(misled/misinformed), naive voting. Look at things now that Obama has won. Changes are lready being made to "promises". McCain could not be a btter man for the job or in life.
  • by betty Location: cortland on Nov 12, 2008 at 08:10 AM
    I personally like Sarah Palin. I thought the media went after her right off the bat. They wanted Obama so they picked away at her, and still are. I think John McCain is doing the right thing by telling he didn't lose because of Ms. Palin. He should have come forward earlier and put a stop to the media mess. I think President Bush & family are wonderful people to invite and show the Obama’s around with such warmth and grace. They sure didn't get a warm welcome from ole Bill & Hillary. I think it's time people stop mean mouthing and start looking forward. Our country needs more love, not more hate. Everyone should look into a mirror before speaking. We all have junk in our backyard. Please let the hate go.
  • by Dwayne Location: Greenville on Nov 12, 2008 at 07:53 AM
    Sen.McCain and President Bush have displayed tremendous grace during this transition. It is clear that the Republicans are ready to move forward to help our country. I have and always will support my President regardless of party. Apparently the existing Democrats and their puppets such as Jackson, Wright, Farakan, Sharpton have no such dignity.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 12, 2008 at 07:40 AM
    McCain committed political suicide when he picked The Alaskan Airhead as his running mate. The only thing that McCain has and ever will have is running the flag down everyone's throat and the Vietnam/POW sob story. He got his book and made for TV movie. Vietnam ended 33 years ago. We lost. I think he's still bitter about about not getting a parade and a triumphant return as our so-called "heroes" do today (which is little too much, I might add).
  • by v Location: kinston on Nov 12, 2008 at 07:29 AM
    Palin brought honesty and straight forwardness to the campaign. I guess people are just not ready for a candidate that is "what you see is what you get".. If half the crap was told on Obama that was spread about Palin, the outcome might be a "little" different on Jan 20. God help us!!!
  • by Devil Dog Location: New Bern on Nov 12, 2008 at 06:59 AM
    Just think if Al FRANKEN and Barney FRANK were running for President and Vice President, Sarah PALIN would look great as a republican candidate.
  • by David Location: Washington on Nov 12, 2008 at 06:37 AM
    McCain brought great ideas and experience to the campaign, but sadly, he lost my vote when he selected Gov. Palin as a running mate.
  • by BD Location: Washington on Nov 12, 2008 at 05:03 AM
    Me from Bertie...I couldn't agree more!
  • by ??? Location: NC on Nov 12, 2008 at 04:57 AM
    If McCain feels this way, then I think he should kick some of his aides butts. The aides are a bunch of spoiled, bad loser crybabies.Instead of crying over losing, they should be working on thier battle plans for 2012!Actually 2010, see if the Republicans cant take back Congress.
  • by B on Nov 12, 2008 at 03:17 AM
    I beg to differ. I have alot or respect for Mr. McCain, however, from the minute Palin opened her sarcasic mouth at the Rep. Convention she made me SICK. Changed my feeling on McCain totally. Now that it's over I see the McCain I respected again. He is a good man, but I just couldn't vote for him.
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