Sarah Palin and John McCain
[Image: Getty]

Over the last few days there have been some reports that in the HBO documentary John McCain: For Whom The Bell Tolls, the Senator admits that he regrets picking Sarah Palin over Joe Lieberman as his running mate back in 2008. 

But during my recent discussion with one of its directors Ted Kunhardt, who worked on “For Whom The Bells Tolls” with his brother and father, he sought to clarify Senator McCain’s comments.

In the documentary, when the topic of picking Palin or Lieberman as his vice president came up, McCain remarked, "I should have said: ‘Look, Joe Lieberman is my best friend, we should take him. But I was persuaded by my political advisers it would be harmful, and that was another mistake that I made.”

Kunhardt admitted tome that everyone involved in interviewing the Senator was taken aback with McCain's remarkably candid admission. 


“When he first said it, we were like, ‘Holy crap, I can’t believe he just said that. Wow.’ I had never heard him say anything like that.”

Kunhardt then made his clarification. “I think it is important to clarify, because the media has taken this in a different direction, John is upset that he didn’t choose Lieberman. But he isn’t upset that he chose Palin.”

“We pressed him hard on this. We kept on trying to say, ‘Well, you just said you regret picking Lieberman, does that mean you regret picking Palin?’ And he’d said, ‘No. I regret listening to my inner staff because they gave me an answer that I didn’t want to hear’.”

“When I spoke to the staff they were like, ‘John didn’t truly get it. He would have never passed the test at the Republican convention. It just wouldn’t have happened’.” 

“When he made his decision for Palin I think he supported it. And we tried to pull out some things that had never been heard before. But he is not that kind of guy and I don’t think he feels that way.”

After McCain’s comments, “For Whom The Bell Tolls” then cuts to columnist David Brooks, who says that his decision to go for Palin over Lieberman was the start of a chain reaction that led to the election of Donald Trump. 

Kunhardt insisted that Brooks’ remark was a necessary inclusion, even though they didn’t have the chance to film McCain’s rebuttal. 

“We did feel that Brooks’ comment was important to put out there to create a dialogue. And I hope that this film does create a dialogue.”

“But unfortunately we did our two interviews with McCain in August and October. After those stints we did 3 days in Sedona and 3 days in DC with him.” 

“After that we hadn’t spoke to him or seen him again since we showed him the film 2 weeks ago. After the end of October we hadn’t seen him.”

“So when Brooks made that point that we were interested in and felt was relevant, that by choosing Palin he opened the party to this new chaotic reality that we are in right now, we didn’t have the opportunity to go to Senator McCain and get him to comment.”

“At that point he was in his second batch of radiation and chemotherapy and it just wasn’t going to happen.”

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