BEHIND-SCENES PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN REVELATIONS INCLUDE HILLARY CLINTON'S CONCERNS ABOUT HER HUSBAND'S EFFECT ON HER BEING SECRETARY OF STATE AND SARAH PALIN'S PRE-DEBATE CRISIS -- "60 MINUTES"
Palin Was Overwhelmed by Cramming for the Debate with Joe Biden, whom she Would Call "Joe" as a Trick to Avoid Reflexively Calling Him "O'Biden"
Asked by Barack Obama if she would be his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton -after initially turning him down - was concerned that her husband's penchant for causing controversy would interfere with her new role. Sarah Palin was so overwhelmed by the amount of information she needed to learn to debate Joe Biden that campaign staffers thought the debate might be a "debacle of historic and epic proportions." Those are some of the revelations in "Game Change," a new book about the presidential campaigns by political reporters Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, who say they interviewed 200 Democrats and Republicans with inside knowledge. Both men, along with Steve Schmidt, John McCain's former chief campaign strategist, are interviewed by Anderson Cooper for a story to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES, Sunday Jan. 10 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
When President-elect Obama called her again to convince her to be his secretary of state, Clinton told him there was a problem, says Heilemann, a Time magazine reporter. "At that point she says �There's one last thing that's a problem, which is my husband. You've seen what this is like; it will be a circus if I take this job,'" Heilemann reports. Says Halperin, who writes for New York magazine, "It's this extraordinary moment...Clinton saying something she says to almost no one, admitting her husband is a problem. At the same time Obama comes back and shows vulnerability to her. He says to her, �Given the economic crisis, given all I have to deal with, I need your help.'"
In the McCain-Palin camp, Schmidt says that when he was told by a campaign staffer prepping Palin for her debate with Biden that the vice presidential candidate was doing very poorly in her preparation, it was a crisis moment. Watch an excerpt. "He told us the debate was going to be a debacle of historic and epic proportions...she was not focused...not engaged," he tells Cooper. "She was not really participating in the prep." Schmidt confronted Palin and, he says, "She said, �You know, I think that's right.'"
If that wasn't enough for deep concern, Palin had a reflexive tendency to refer to Biden as "O'Biden," says Schmidt, something that had to be fixed before the debate. He says others in the campaign came up with a solution. "It was multiple people - and I wasn't one of them-- who all said at the same time, �Just say, Can I call you Joe,' which she did." Schmidt says he took over the prepping, simplified it, and says she "more than held her own" in the debate. But not without one "O'Biden" slip on national television.
Palin declined to be interviewed for this story, saying she had dealt with many of the allegations in her own book.
The authors and Schmidt reveal other inside campaign issues, including that Clinton was so confident she would get the Democratic nomination that she had two top advisers planning her transition for after she won the general election. They also point out that up until only days before the Republican Convention, Sen. John McCain was still thinking Sen. Joe Lieberman would be his running mate, until the "blowback" was so strong, they feared Lieberman would be rejected by the party, forcing the last-minute choice of Palin for the role. Schmidt believes the Obama-Biden victory would have been even more lopsided without Palin on the Republican ticket.