Sarah Palin was an unprepared, uninformed vice presidential candidate who repeatedly made false statements in public, says a top aide on the McCain campaign.

In a "60 Minutes" segment based on John Heilemann and Mark Halperin's new book, "Game Change," McCain's senior adviser Steve Schmidt recounts some devastating anecdotes about Palin from the campaign trail.

Most troubling to the campaign, Schmidt said, was Palin's horrendous performance during prep sessions for her debate with then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.).


Schmidt recounts receiving a frantic phone call from an aide who was trying to prepare the Alaska governor.

"He told us that the debate was going to be a debacle of historic and epic proportions. He told us she was not focused. She was not engaged. She was really not participating in the prep," says Schmidt.

The campaign flew her out to McCain's Arizona ranch and simplified the debate prep sessions. Things seemed to better, except for one problem: Palin couldn't say Joe Biden's name.

Palin repeatedly referred to Biden as "O'Biden," Schmidt says, leading to fears that she would mangle his name throughout the debate and create a PR disaster for the campaign.

That's when aides stumbled upon a solution that turned into one of the most memorable moments of the debate.

"It was multiple people -- and I wasn't one of them -- who all said at the same time, 'Just say, "Can I call you Joe?",' which she did," Schmidt says.

But Palin's problems stretched beyond the debate performance.

Heilemann and Halperin write that the campaign soon realized that Palin was woefully uninformed on basic issues of U.S. history and politics.

"Her foreign policy tutors are literally taking her through, 'This is World War I, this is World War II, this is the Korean War,'" Heilemann told "60 Minutes." "This is the -- how the Cold War worked. Steve Schmidt had gone to them and said, 'She knows nothing.'"

Palin's spokesperson has said that reporting in the book is inaccurate.

Schmidt says Palin also gave the campaign headaches by repeatedly making false statements on the campaign trail, a habit, Schmidt says, that Palin still displays.

"There were numerous instances that she said things that were -- that were not accurate that ultimately, the campaign had to deal with," he said. "And that opened the door to criticism that she was being untruthful and inaccurate. And I think that that is something that continues to this day."

For example, Schmidt said Palin mischaracterized an ethics report regarding her conduct as governor of Alaska.

"She went out and said that, you know, 'This report completely exonerates me.' And in fact, it didn't. You know, it's the equivalent of saying down is up and up is down. It was provably, demonstrably untrue," Schmidt says.

Part of the reason the campaign struggled to deal with Palin was that they were still seriously considering another VP pick -- Joe Lieberman -- until just days before the convention.

"Roughly up to a week before the convention, we were still talking very seriously about Senator Lieberman," Schmidt says. "But once word leaked out that he was under serious consideration, the blowback was ferocious."

The campaign worried that the convention might actually reject Lieberman, so they settled on Palin in a last-minute move aimed at dramatically shaking up the race.

And Schmidt says, on balance, Palin helped the ticket.

"I believe, had she not been on the ticket our margin of defeat would’ve been greater than it would’ve been otherwise," he said.