John McCain says he will not be watching HBO’s ‘Game Change’

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Former Republican presidential candidate John McCain told a group of Republicans in Arizona Saturday that he will not be watching HBO’s “Game Change.”

The HBO movie, based on the book “Game Change” by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann and about the 2008 presidential campaign, reportedly features a strikingly negative portrayal of Arizona Sen. McCain’s would-be vice president, Sarah Palin.

“This new movie that comes out, [people] ask me if I’m gonna watch it,” the Los Angeles Times reported McCain said Saturday. “I tell them it’ll be a cold day in Gila Bend, Arizona.

Last week, Fox News reported that former Palin aides, who had yet to see the movie (having been denied a pre-screening) defended Palin from the negative portrayal in the book and offered in trailers for the movie.

“They don’t want to hear anything good,” Meg Stapleton, a former spokeswoman, said on a Wednesday conference call with reporters. “We all know Palin sells and the dramatization of Palin sells even more. This is sick.”

Jason Recher, a senior Palin advisor, said he told screenwriter and co-executive producer Danny Strong that Halperin and Heilemann’s book “absolutely, unequivocally” did not meet his memory of the campaign.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, movie director Jay Roach said that he had tried to get Palin’s input for the movie. Palin declined.

“We tried to reach out,” he said. “I wrote two long letters — one to her attorney and one to her directly because I very much wanted to speak to her to get the story right. She just declined; that’s how it goes. I had to settle for getting her voice through her audio books and through interviews and many of the personal accounts of people who were in the rooms with her at the time.”

According to the Los Angeles Times’ report, when asked about his selection of Palin for the ticket, McCain reiterated that he did not regret it, but said, rather, “I’m proud.”

“I just don’t get it,” McCain said, “why they want to continue to attack Sarah Palin, a good and decent, fine mother, a wonderful person.”

The film debuts on March 10.

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