Washington, Sept.2 : Up until midweek last week, some 48 to 72 hours before McCain introduced Sarah Palin at a Friday rally in Dayton, Ohio, he was still holding out the hope that he could name as his running mate a good friend, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, a Republican close to the campaign said.
McCain was also interested in another favorite, former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge.
But both men favor abortion rights, anathema to the Christian conservatives who make up a crucial base of the Republican Party.
As word leaked out that McCain was seriously considering the men, the campaign was bombarded by outrage from influential conservatives who predicted an explosive floor fight at the convention and vowed rejection of Ridge or Lieberman by the delegates, reports The New York Times.
Perhaps more important advice that McCain received was that if he did not do something to shake up the race, his campaign would be stuck on a potentially losing trajectory.
With time running out, McCain discarded two safer choices, Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, as too predictable, and turned to Palin.
He had his first face-to-face interview with her on Thursday and offered her the job moments later.
"They didn't seriously consider her until four or five days from the time she was picked, before she was asked, maybe the Thursday or Friday before. This was really kind of rushed at the end, because John didn't get what he wanted. He wanted to do Joe or Ridge," the paper quoted a Republican close to the campaign, as saying.
McCain's advisers, however, are repeatedly saying that Palin was "thoroughly vetted," a process that would have included a review of all financial and legal records as well as a criminal background check. People familiar with the process said Palin had responded to a standard form with more than 70 questions.
Mark Salter, McCain's closest adviser, said in an e-mail message that Palin was interviewed by Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr., a veteran Washington lawyer in charge of the vice-presidential vetting process for McCain, as well as by other lawyers who worked for Culvahouse.