In an interview with CBS' Katie Couric last night, John McCain chief strategist Steve Schmidt takes Karl Rove to task:
COURIC: I want to get your reaction to something Karl Rove told the Washington Post today. He said Sarah Palin was, quote, "not a governing decision but a campaign decision." What's your reaction.
Mr. SCHMIDT: Karl's wrong. She's an exceptional governor, a reform governor in Alaska. Fifty states in this country, she is the most popular governor of any governor of any state. Her approval ratings are 80 percent. When you look at the fact that Congress's approval rating is 9 percent, and 85 percent of the country thinks we're going in the wrong direction, she's doing something right up there.
She's fought the oil companies. She's building a huge natural gas pipeline. She's taken on the corrupt special interests. She's returned taxpayer money back to families in Alaska. She is the future of the Republican Party. She's going to be an outstanding vice president.
The simple fact here is that this is a mom of five children. There's been a private family matter and she's been under viscous assault and attack from the angry left. And we've seen that today. There's a lot of allegations and rumors, almost all of them untrue. The other side is throwing everything but the kitchen sink at her to see what sticks.
American people are going to love her when they meet her. She's an exceptional woman, an accomplished woman; and by any objective measurement, Katie, she is more experienced and more accomplished than Senator Obama. She's a woman who manages billion dollar budgets. She makes decisions every day. One of the most exceptional governors in the country.
COURIC: So you don't think pre--that Barack Obama's experience as a state senator for eight years and then a US senator for four years, how can you compare those two?
Mr. SCHMIDT: Well, Barack Obama was in the United States Senate for one year before he took off, and Senator Graham will talk about that, to run for president full time. When he was a state senator, he had no executive decisions. At 130 times tough votes, he took a pass and voted present. Leaders have to make decisions. Governor Palin makes decisions.
Couric also challenged Schmidt and Sen. Lindsey Graham on Palin's opposition to the "Bridge to Nowhere" project:
COURIC: So do you think Senator Graham, governors are better leaders than senators?
Sen. GRAHAM: I think governors--having been in the Senate, probably. Governor Palin, I think, really compliments what John wants to do. John has looked at Washington as broken, and it's not nothing--something new to him. I was one of 14 senators who voted against "a bridge to nowhere." I was scared because I knew what was going to come my way. The governor of Alaska said no to the project.
COURIC: But didn't she initially say yes to the project?
Sen. GRAHAM: Yeah.
COURIC: So doesn't that kind of drive a hole into that argument?
Sen. GRAHAM: I think--I have earmarked. I confess on national TV. This has been a journey for Alaska and the country. She's seen what's happened in Alaska. John's seen what has happened in Washington. If you wanted to pick somebody that had a record of change and would tell their own party things they didn't want to hear, she's the best pick John could have made. She's a lot like John.
COURIC: But she did have a change of heart of that bridge to nowhere, correct? I mean, let's just set the record straight.
Mr. SCHMIDT: She did. And let's be clear. She killed it at the end of the day. It's OK.
COURIC: After initially supporting it, that's all. I think we should set the record straight on that.
Mr. SCHMIDT: There's no--there's no--there's no question that that's--that that's the case.
Sen. GRAHAM: Yeah.