11th-hour selection was a surprise even to the Palin family

Kyle Hopkins

Her staff went to bed thinking Friday would be just another day running the state. Her kids thought they were going to Ohio to celebrate a wedding anniversary.

How did Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. John McCain keep the Alaska governor's candidacy for vice president a secret?

McCain's camp said the offer came at nearly the last minute: 11 a.m. Thursday.

"They had been doing homework for many months evidently. And in this last week, they just started wrapping everything up," Palin said of McCain's vice-president search during a Friday telephone interview on the Bob and Mark Show on KWHL 106.5 FM.

"And they called me just a few days ago to say they were still looking at me, but I hadn't been in contact with them," she told host Bob Lester.

Palin spokesman Bill McAllister said McCain and Palin had talked on Sunday -- while Palin was at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer -- but that there was no indication he was about to pick Palin as his running mate.

"At that time, the governor's sense was that nothing had really changed ..."

In another radio appearance Friday, on the Eddie Burke Show on KBYR 700 AM, Palin said: "The jet had come up the day before to take me to ... Arizona where I met with the senator and from there we zipped to Ohio to make the announcement today."

"It all happened very, very quickly," she said.

Here's how a McCain campaign spokesman described in an e-mail the days leading up to Friday's announcement:

"John McCain first met Governor Sarah Palin at the National Governors Association meeting in Washington in February of 2008 and came away extraordinarily impressed. John McCain followed her career and admired her tenacity and her many accomplishments. She was scheduled for a high profile speaking role at our convention and included in the VP selection process because of his admiration for her strong reform credentials.

"Last Sunday, Governor Palin and John McCain had a conversation over the phone. Governor Palin was at the Alaska State Fair, and John McCain was at his home at Phoenix. Previously, Rick Davis, John McCain's campaign manager, had also been in regular contact with the Governor as part of the on-going selection process. This past week, Governor Palin arrived with Kris Perry in Flagstaff, Arizona, on Wednesday evening.

"Upon arrival, Governor Palin and her longtime aide Kris Perry met with Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter of the McCain campaign at Mr. Bob Delgado's home in Flagstaff. Mr. Delgado is the CEO of the Hensley corporation, which is Mrs. Cindy McCain's family business. On Thursday morning, Governor Palin and staff were joined by Mrs. Cindy McCain and later joined by John McCain at the McCain family home in Sedona, Arizona.

"At approximately 11:00 a.m. Thursday August 28, 2008, John McCain formally invited Governor Sarah Palin to join the Republican ticket as the vice presidential nominee on the deck of the McCain family home.

"Later that morning, John McCain departed for Phoenix and Governor Palin departed with staff to Flagstaff, Arizona. Governor Palin, Kris Perry, Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter proceeded to the Manchester Inn and Conference Center in Middletown, Ohio. They were checked into the hotel as the Upton Family. While there, Governor Palin's children, who had been told they were going to Ohio to celebrate their parents' wedding anniversary, were told for the first time that their mother would be a nominee for Vice President of the United States of America.

"Today, John McCain was proud to announce that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, a proven-reformer, will share a partnership with him to shake things up in Washington and to make government more effective for American families.

Find Kyle Hopkins' political blog online at adn.com/alaskapolitics or call him at 257-4334.

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