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11th-hour Vetting

11TH-HOUR VETTING.... There were a series of disconcerting reports yesterday on the McCain campaign's haphazard and slapdash vetting process when it came to Sarah Palin. By one account, Palin wasn't on the short-list a week ago, and the McCain team "used little more than a Google Internet search as part of a rushed effort to review Palin's potential pitfalls." By another, McCain aides have begun a more thorough vetting of Palin now.

The Washington Post's Dan Balz moves the ball forward today, noting that Palin first sat down with McCain's vetting team on Wednesday, 24 hours before receiving the big invitation.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was not subjected to a lengthy in-person background interview with the head of Sen. John McCain's vice presidential vetting team until last Wednesday in Arizona, the day before McCain asked her to be his running mate, and she did not disclose the fact that her 17-year-old daughter was pregnant until that meeting, two knowledgeable McCain officials acknowledged Tuesday.Palin was one of two finalists in the vice presidential sweepstakes who were interviewed last week by former White House counsel Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr., just days before McCain introduced her to the nation as his choice. The other finalist was Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. One of the officials said Culvahouse was chasing down last-minute information about Pawlenty at the request of the campaign as late as last Thursday, the day McCain offered the job to Palin and she accepted.

As Andrew Sullivan responded, "How confident does that make you in McCain's executive skills? ... If this is how John McCain picks the person who would replace him in an emergency, imagine how stable and rational a decision-maker he'd be in the White House."

This morning, shortly after reporters began to inquire about these latest details, McCain's chief strategist, Steve Schmidt, announced, "The McCain campaign will have no further comment about our long and thorough process." Asked when, exactly, Palin handed in her responses to the exhaustive written questionnaire, the campaign refused to say.