Tue Jan 12, 1:04 pm ET
An interview on "The Today Show" this morning became contentious when host Matt Lauer questioned Sen. John McCain about allegations in a new book that his campaign did little background research on Sarah Palin before choosing her to be his running mate. Watch the video below:
After asking McCain about the controversy surrounding Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the state of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lauer pressed McCain about the accuracy of the claims made about his failed presidential campaign in the new book ''Game Change'' by New York magazine's John Heilemann and Time Magazine's Mark Halperin. Was it true, Lauer asked, that the vetting of Sarah Palin was so woefully inadequate that no one from the campaign traveled to Alaska to interview her husband or any of her political opponents?
"I wouldn't know," McCain said. "The fact is that I'm proud of Sarah Palin, I'm proud of the campaign we waged, she energized our party, she will be a major factor in American politics in the future, and I'm proud of our campaign."
Somewhat taken aback, Lauer told McCain that he found it "somewhat surprising" that he didn't know anything about the vetting process, adding "You were the presidential candidate."
McCain testily shot back by saying that he had no intention of "looking back over what happened over a year ago," adding, "I'm sorry, you'll have to get others to comment on it."
Heilemann and Halperin's ''Game Change'' has provided tremendous fodder for the national political conversation. In addition to this dispute over the McCain campaign and the controversy over Reid's racially insensitive word choice, the notable claims include:
- that the affair between John Edwards and his campaign videographer was known about and kept quiet by three of his aides from early on. Edwards comes off in the book as a man with a massive ego and delusional tendencies. His wife Elizabeth is described by insiders as being "an abusive, intrusive, paranoid condescending crazywoman."
- that former President Bill Clinton was involved in an affair in 2006 that many thought would derail Hillary Clinton's run for the presidency and he offended Ted Kennedy deeply while trying to win his endorsement for his wife's campaign by saying the following about then-candidate Obama: "A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee."
- that Sarah Palin believed Saddam Hussein to be behind the attacks on 9/11, didn't understand why North and South Korea were separate (the Korean War) and that she could not properly pronounce Joe Biden's name. The book contends that Palin was a mentally unstable person prone to wild mood swings, describing her being hopelessly lost in a "catatonic stupor" at one point during the campaign.
- Brett Michael Dykes is a contributor to the Yahoo! News blog