Schwarzenegger strays from the script

SCHWARZENEGGER STRAYS FROM THE SCRIPT…. Yesterday, John McCain chatted with Don Imus, and expressed frustration about Republicans who’ve questioned Sarah Palin’s credentials. “What’s their problem?” McCain asked.

“I think she is the most qualified of any that has run recently for vice president,” McCain added. “I’m amazed. I’m amazed.”

McCain’s amazement notwithstanding, he’s right about one thing — a lot of Republicans are very concerned about the idea of putting Palin one 72-year-old heartbeat from the presidency. Apparently, even California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) still needs some convincing.

The McCain campaign convinced Schwarzenegger to hit the campaign trail, making appearances on McCain’s behalf in battleground states like Ohio. He sat down with CNN’s Campbell Brown yesterday, and unfortunately for the campaign, strayed from the script.

Brown asked Schwarzenegger if he believes Palin is, in the event of an emergency, qualified to be president. He replied, “I think that she will get to be qualified.”

Brown, noticing Schwarzenegger’s hesitation and sheepish response, pressed on, asking, “She will get there? What do you mean? She’s not ready yet?” Schwarzenegger, looking a little embarrassed, said, “By the time that she is sworn in I think she will be ready.”

In other words, as far as Schwarzenegger is concerned, Palin isn’t ready now, but hopefully things will come together between now and January.

Maybe McCain should have talked to Schwarzenegger about this before calling on him to give the campaign a boost.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.