HBO film ‘Game Change’ focuses plenty on Palin, but lacks punch
9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. CST Saturday, March 10, HBO
In August 2007, the media pundits were after Republican presidential candidate John McCain (Ed Harris), and he hated being their target. He brought in experienced strategist Steve Schmidt (Woody Harrelson) to take over the senior staff position on his campaign, shaking up the team then headed by campaign manager Rick Davis (Peter McNicol) and including Mark Salter (Jamie Sheridan) and Mark Wallace (Ron Livingston), with Fred Davis (Bruce Altman) as image consultant.
When the primaries were over and McCain was the de facto Republican nominee, he had yet to choose a vice presidential running mate before the Democratic convention in August 2008. The team floated Sen. Joe Lieberman (a miscast, goofy-looking Austin Pendleton), but choosing him, according to Schmidt, was “the right thing to do but the wrong thing to win.” Schmidt tells McCain and staff that they needed a “game changer,” which meant they had to do four things: win back the independents, excite the base, create distance from the Bush administration and close the gender gap with women. Unless they could regain at least 15 percent of the 20 percent disapproval rate for McCain with women, they had no chance at winning the White House.
Rick Davis does an Internet search for female Republicans holding office, because they didn’t really have anyone in mind. He discovers Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (Julianne Moore), and is riveted by her charisma. She’s pro-life, a devout Christian, mother of five and likes to moose hunt. “A woman with a gun,” Davis says. “The base will love her.”