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McCain Spokesman Defends Palin Pick and her Privacy

September 2, 2008 at 7:25 PM EDT

GWEN IFILL: So how did McCain come to choose Sarah Palin? For that, we turn to McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds.

Thank you for joining us.

TUCKER BOUNDS, McCain Campaign Spokesman: Thanks, Gwen.

GWEN IFILL: Do you want to jump in on the argument we just heard with Mark and David? Where do you come down?

TUCKER BOUNDS: Well, I think that they both make valid points, although I do have to agree with David. You know, we have to take into consideration that this is a private family matter, and the family had hoped that it would remain a private family matter. We should all have some respect for that.

Additionally, I think we have to ask ourselves if this is the type of questioning that we’d be asking if we were talking about a male candidate. I think it’s a unique situation, but I think that there’s — I have to agree with both of them.

There’s an extraordinary amount of attention being paid to her time as it relates to her home. And I think that some of that may have crossed the line a bit.

I know that both of our opponents that we’re running against haven’t been facing questions about the ramifications of their home life and some of that sacrifice.

Palin's spotlight

GWEN IFILL: In that respect, are you surprised to the degree of attention she's gotten, given the fact that people didn't know that much about her?

TUCKER BOUNDS: Oh, I don't think there's any surprise that there's a lot of media attention around the selection. She's an exciting, enthusiastic character. We're going to see her here this week. And everyone is going to get a good taste for just what type of leadership she's going to bring.

It's an extraordinary time at the McCain campaign, because we can feel her enthusiasm, we can feel the support coming around our campaign, because of the things she was able to accomplish in Alaska, her experience, and her story.

She has an interesting story, as a parent-teacher advocate that went on to the city council, the mayor, then the oil and gas commission, on to the governor's mansion, making reforms all the way along.

So we feel very good. And the attention, I think, is deserved around her candidacy. I'd just hope that the private family matters would remain just that. It seems like it would be easy enough for us to do.

GWEN IFILL: Well, let's move past the private family matters for the purpose of our very brief discussion and talk a little bit about some of the things we have learned about Sarah Palin in the last few days, including when you talk about her reputation as a reformer.

Controversy behind Palin

GWEN IFILL: As mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, she got her share of federal earmarks, apparently, for her hometown. Is that something that runs counter to the kind of anti-earmark campaigning, pork-barrel campaigning that John McCain has been doing?

TUCKER BOUNDS: Well, I have to admit, she did do what she could on behalf of her constituency as a small-town mayor. And what she did was she looked to get the resources that the town needed.

But when she elevated herself, went to higher office, she reformed the way that government works with earmarks. And she's been stridently opposed to earmarks.

So earlier in her career, she was working inside of a function to make sure that her constituency was best served. But as governor, she's recognized they're best served without the wasteful spending, with a different mechanism for funding these types of needs.

GWEN IFILL: McCain and Palin had met only one time before he offered her the vice presidency. That's correct? Is this something -- because of the premium that you put on secrecy and the surprise factor, do you think that she was thoroughly vetted enough?

TUCKER BOUNDS: Well, two parts to that, Gwen. First of all, he didn't meet her just a single time before he made the selection. They had met a couple of times and they had had conversations. Secondly, she was fully vetted.

GWEN IFILL: But not about this?

TUCKER BOUNDS: Fully vetted. And just because some of the information surrounding Governor Palin is new -- new to a lot of Americans and new to the news media doesn't mean that it was new to the campaign. We did a full and thorough vet. It was very comprehensive.

GWEN IFILL: So you knew about what was happening with the earmarks, you knew about what was happening with the family situation? All of the things we have learned in the last 72 hours, you're saying the campaign was aware of?

TUCKER BOUNDS: Absolutely.

An 'emboldened' nomination

GWEN IFILL: So now, do you think that her nomination in any way is in peril tonight?

TUCKER BOUNDS: Absolutely not. I think that her nomination is emboldened every day that this convention goes along, because everyone in that room there is excited about hearing from Governor Palin, excited about change in Washington.

That's what they're electing John McCain to do, shake things up, build on his reform record, work in a bipartisan way. Governor Palin has done it in Alaska; she's going to do it in Washington, if we're fortunate enough to be victorious in November.

GWEN IFILL: And we will hear from her tomorrow night?

TUCKER BOUNDS: Yes, she's going to -- I think she's going to electrify this place.

GWEN IFILL: OK, Tucker Bounds of the John McCain campaign, thank you for joining us.

TUCKER BOUNDS: Thanks, Gwen.

GWEN IFILL: Back to you, Jim.