Image: Sarah Palin
Mandel Ngan  /  AFP - Getty Images file
Sarah Palin, seen here at a campaign rally in Columbus, Ohio, in September 2008, gets some of the attention in the new book "Game Change."
updated 1/10/2010 7:25:17 PM ET 2010-01-11T00:25:17

Sarah Palin believed that Sen. John McCain chose her to be his running mate in 2008 because of “God’s plan,” according to a top political strategist in the Arizona Republican’s campaign.

In an interview with the CBS news magazine “60 Minutes,” Steve Schmidt described Palin as “very calm — nonplussed” after McCain met with her at his Arizona ranch just before putting her on the Republican ticket. McCain had planned to name Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., as his vice presidential choice until word leaked, sparking what Schmidt called political blowback over picking the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee.

Schmidt said he asked Palin about her serenity in the face of becoming “one of the most famous people in the world.” He quoted her as saying, “It’s God’s plan.”

Palin has not ruled out a run for the presidency.

Schmidt was interviewed by “60 Minutes” for a segment about a new book about the 2008 presidential race, “Game Change,” by John Heilemann of New York magazine and Mark Halperin of Time magazine.

Schmidt credited Palin with being a quick study and for giving a great speech at the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn., but he said it soon became clear that she often was not accurate in her remarks.

“There were numerous instances that she said things that were — that were not accurate that, ultimately, the campaign had to deal with. And that opened the door to criticism that she was being untruthful and inaccurate. And I think that that is something that continues to this day,” he said.

In the book, Schmidt is quoted telling Palin's foreign policy tutors: “You guys have a lot of work to do. She doesn't know anything.”

While flying home to Alaska to see her son off to war, she told her team: “I wish I'd paid more attention to this stuff.”

At another point, she is quoted as saying she would not have accepted the vice presidential nomination if she had understood the burden.

Palin’s spokeswoman, Meg Stapleton, has disputed the version of events presented in the reporters’ book.

“The governor’s descriptions of these events are found in her book, ‘Going Rogue.’ Her descriptions are accurate,” Stapleton said in a statement to “60 Minutes.” Stapleton added: “She was there. These reporters were not.”

Schmidt conceded that had Palin not been on the ticket, “our margin of defeat would’ve been greater than it would’ve been otherwise.”

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Gamechanger?

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    >>> change the face of late-night comedy again.

    >>> good evening. as president obama nears the end of his first year in office, there is an intriguing postscript to the 2008 election season that is generating both a lot of buzz and concern in washington tonight. a new book called "game change" about the election, written by a pair of well-known journalists, hits bookstores tomorrow, and already tonight it's prompting an apology from the senate's top democrat over a racially charged comment. but it leaves very few of the key players in the ' 08 election from the president to john mccain , even some of the candidates' spouses, unscathed. we're covering that and the political fallout. let's start with nbc's andrea mitchell , who joins us from washington with more. andrea, good evening.

    >> reporter: good evening, lester. the new book "game change" about the 2008 campaign could become a political game changer right now. as senate majority leader harry reid is discovering today.

    >> hello, everyone.

    >> reporter: in the crossfire, the senate's top democrat, critical to brokering a compromise for the president on health care and the rest of his agenda. but according to "game change," an insider's account of the 2008 campaign by john heilemann and mark halperin , reid , an early obama supporter, made demeaning remarks about the candidate's race, saying obama quoin because he was "light-skinned, with no negro dialect unless he wanted to have one." when excerpts of the book leaked over the weekend, reid called the president to apologize. the president issued a statement saying, "as far as i'm concerned, the book is closed." but republicans are now calling for reid to resign. republican chairman michael steele on "meet the press."

    >> when democrats get caught saying racist things, you know, an apology is enough. if that had been mitch mcconnell saying that about an african- american candidate for president of the united states , trust me, this chairman and the dnc would be screaming for his head very much as they were with trent lott .

    >> reporter: former republican majority leader trent lott was forced to quit over racial remarks he made back in 2002 . today most democrats rallied behind reid , already facing a tough re- election campaign in nevada.

    >> i think sterne reid stepped up, acknowledged that they were wrong, apologized to the president. he's accepted the apology. and we're moving on.

    >> reporter: also in "game change," behind the campaign smiles obama 's anger at his running mate's gaffes. especially after joe biden 's comment that obama would be tested.

    >> mark my words. it will not be six months before the world tests barack obama like they did john kennedy .

    >> reporter: the authors say the candidate hit the ceiling, asking aides, "how many times is biden going to say something stupid?" the book has gossipy accounts of other campaign players. elizabeth edwards called her husband a hick, unleashed profanity-laced tirades, and once ripped her blouse off at an airport terminal during a screaming match with her husband over his love affair . hillary clinton reportedly at first told the president-elect she couldn't be his secretary of state because of her husband. the authors say she told obama , "i can't control him, and at some point he'll be a problem." obama said he was prepared to take that risk because he and the country needed her. and the authors write that after john mccain chose sarah palin as his running mate dick cheney called palin a reckless choice. tonight spokespeople for dick cheney , elizabeth and john edwards , and hillary clinton all declined to comment on this book. but harry reid 's office said he's absolutely seeking re-election and will continue to serve as majority leader. lester?

    >> andrea mitchell tonight. andrea, thanks.

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