Revelations from the Campaign

Anderson Cooper Reports On A New Book That Reveals New Details From The Obama And McCain Campaigns

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Barack Obama is just ten days away from completing the first year of his presidency, but surprising revelations about the historic campaign that got him there are still coming to light.

It turns out Hillary Clinton was so confident she would become president, that a full year before the election she had already started planning for her transition into the White House.

That's in a new book by reporters Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, who have also brought details to light about the Republican campaign; some of them directly contradict what Sarah Palin wrote in her book.

Palin said she had been misunderstood and mishandled by top McCain staffers. The new book quotes McCain staffers saying Palin created most of the problems.

John McCain's chief campaign strategist Steve Schmidt had a major role in choosing Sarah Palin. Just days before the Republican National Convention, John McCain thought he'd be running with Joe Lieberman.

Schmidt told CNN's Anderson Cooper why McCain pivoted from Lieberman to Palin.

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"Roughly up to a week before the convention, we were still talking very seriously about Senator Lieberman. But once word leaked out that he was under serious consideration, the blowback was ferocious," Schmidt remembered.

"Ferocious," because many conservatives thought Lieberman was far too liberal. Schmidt says they feared the Republican National Convention might reject him.

McCain couldn't risk that, so they needed a last-minute replacement.

"So, suddenly you're in a jam," Cooper remarked.

"We were," Schmidt acknowledged.

"That's the state of desperation they're in as they sit down with McCain that Sunday night over a dinner of deep fried burritos and say to him, 'What about Sarah Palin?'" author John Heilemann told Cooper.

Heilemann, of New York Magazine, and Mark Halperin, of Time, covered the campaign and spent the last two years interviewing 200 political insiders for their book, "Game Change."

Among their revelations is how McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, spotted Sarah Palin while searching the Internet for possible female vice presidential candidates.

"Rick Davis saw one interview she did with Charlie Rose where she was very much the Sarah Palin that people find appealing. She was lively, she was engaging, she popped off the screen. And he said, 'Wow, she jumps out,'" Halperin said.

"McCain boxed himself in. He needed a game-changing pick for vice president. And that left them with a last minute pick of someone who was, to McCain, a virtual stranger, and was, to his senior staffers, an absolute stranger," he added.

Just two days before McCain publicly announced his choice, Palin arrived in Arizona to meet with the senator and his top staffers, including chief campaign strategist Steve Schmidt.

"I said, 'If this project goes forward you'll be one of the most famous people in the world by Friday. Will you be able to live with that?' She said she would be able to," Schmidt remembered.

Asked how Palin responded after McCain asked her to be his vice president, Schmidt said, "She was very calm. Nonplussed. I said, 'You don't seem nervous at all about this.' And she said, 'No, it's God's plan.'"

"In terms of vetting, was there enough time to do the kind of vetting you would have liked?" Cooper asked.

"I'm not going to second guess the process," Schmidt replied.

The process, according to the authors, was so rushed the background check was little more than one lawyer searching the Internet; no one went to Alaska.

"I wasn't the vetter on the campaign," Schmidt pointed out.

"Early on, though, you apparently said, 'She doesn't know anything,'" Cooper remarked.

"In the immediate aftermath of her selection, it was clear to us that we had a lot of work to do," Schmidt said.

Asked what kind of information Palin didn't know, Schmidt said, "A broad scale of national security issues. But we expected that that would be the case with any of the potential nominees."