McCain adviser calls HBO film 'accurate'

March 12, 2012 at 8:40 PM
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LOS ANGELES, March 12 (UPI) -- John McCain's former campaign manager Steve Schmidt says the HBO movie "Game Change" is an accurate portrayal of McCain's 2008 U.S. presidential campaign.

The movie, which premiered on the cable network during the weekend, follows McCain as he chooses Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate on the Republican slate.

The film paints Palin as a dynamic figure who isn't properly vetted before McCain announces her as his running mate, and it quickly becomes obvious the bright, folksy politician who energizes the Republican party doesn't know much about geography, history or law. The McCain campaign is shown in the movie first trying to bring her up to speed, and then, finding that impossible, coaching her to memorize answers to commonly asked questions. Just as she seems to be getting the hang of it, however, the film shows her becoming more confident and defying what her advisers try to tell her to do.

Julianne Moore stars as Palin, Ed Harris plays McCain and Woody Harrelson plays Schmidt.

"I think it was very accurate," The Hollywood Reporter said Schmidt told the hosts of "Morning Joe" Monday. "For all of us in the campaign, it really rang true. It gave you a little bit of (post-traumatic stress disorder) at times. It did for me. But, look, I think it's a story of when cynicism and idealism collide. When you have to do things necessary to win, to try to get in office to do the great things you want to do for the country and I think it showed a process of vetting that was debilitated by secrecy, that was compartmentalized, that failed, that led to a result that was reckless for the country."

Palin last week criticized the film as "based on a false narrative," but also said she was unconcerned with "being in the good graces of Hollywood's Team Obama."

Director Jay Roach and screenwriter Danny Strong have said they interviewed more than two dozen people and used the non-fiction book "Game Change" by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann to make the tele-picture as accurate as possible.

In the interview Monday, Schmidt described Palin as "phenomenally talented at so many levels" with "an ability to connect," but also "manifestly unprepared to take the oath of office [as president] should it become necessary."

"I think the notion of Sarah Palin being president of the United States is something that frightens me, frankly. And I played a part in that. And played a part in that because we were fueled by ambition to win," The Hollywood Reporter quoted Schmidt as saying.

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