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07/31/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Todd Purdum Discusses His Vanity Fair Article On Palin: "Desperate" Decision That Revealed McCain's "Appalling Egotism" To His Staffers

Todd Purdum was a guest on 'Hardball" tonight to discuss his mammoth 10,000-word Vanity Fair article on Sarah Palin and her involvement in the McCain presidential campaign. The piece is filled with former McCain staffers making damaging statements (albeit anonymously) about Palin on a wide range of issues, from her lackluster efforts to prepare for debates to her diva-like behavior and strained relationships with the campaign staffers assigned to her.

Essentially, Purdum describes a "desperate" campaign which "took one of the great leaps of faith in American political history." However, the lack of deliberation and vetting behind the decision backfired on the campaign:

They needed something to shake up that race and she did shake up that race... In the short term, in the first 10 days it seemed to be working. What happened though was what the McCain campaign has not really taken the time to find out was there was a whole sort of counter-story about her in Alaska that was a lot less rosy than the one they sold of a governor... record-high approval ratings, 80 percent support in her state, who'd taken on big oil and so forth and so there were always a lot more problems with her than they knew.

Purdum explains the anonymity of the negative quotes about Palin to the staffers finding it painful, even privately, to reflect on the selection of Palin because:

There is ultimately no way to read [it] as reflecting anything but an appalling egotism, heedlessness and lack of judgment... They all know that if their candidate - a 72-year-old cancer survivor - had won the presidency, the vice presidency would be in the hands of a woman who lacked the knowledge, the preparation, the aptitude, and the temperament for the job.

Chuck Todd, filling in for Chris Matthews, pressed Purdum on these extremely harsh words, asking if Purdum actually had McCain staffers telling him this or if it was more of a read-between-the-lines of the staffers' statements. Purdum demurred, saying he didn't want to get into a discussion about sources, but he stated it's safe to say that he had people from the McCain campaign saying words extremely close to those words that he wrote.

Purdum also discusses her current, very popular, presence within the national Republican party base, and her future political prospects . The whole interview is worth watching.

[WATCH]

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