John McCain may have admitted that he regrets picking Sarah Palin as his running mate in the 2008 presidential election, but according to the former Alaska governor, “that’s not what Sen. McCain has told me all these years.”
The one-time Republican vice-presidential candidate told The Daily Mail on Thursday that she feels a “perpetual gut punch” every time she hears reports about McCain’s regrets and that having to read the news every day is “not a real fun thing.”
“I attribute a lot of what we’re hearing and reading regarding McCain’s statements to his ghostwriter or ghostwriters,” Palin said. “I don’t know unless I heard it from Sen. McCain myself.”
She added that McCain has “apologized to me repeatedly for the people who ran his campaign,” adding that some of them “now staff MSNBC, the newsroom there, which tells you a lot.”
Want to keep up on the latest from PEOPLE? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get our best stories of the day delivered straight to your inbox.
On Saturday, The New York Times published a report about McCain’s upcoming two-hour HBO documentary and book, The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and other Appreciations — both set for release this month.
In them, the 81-year-old reportedly gives Palin praise for her work on the campaign, but says not choosing friend and former Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) as his running mate instead was “another mistake” he’s made in his political career.
McCain’s advisers had reportedly warned him that choosing Lieberman would divide Republicans and ruin his chances at a win, as Lieberman — formerly a Democrat — was in support of abortion rights.
“It was sound advice that I could reason for myself,” McCain writes in his book, according to the Times. “But my gut told me to ignore it and I wish I had.”
It’s the first time McCain has publicly expressed any second thoughts about picking Palin.
On Thursday, just three weeks after the politician underwent surgery for an intestinal infection, a White House official reportedly mocked McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis.
The remarks were made by special assistant Kelly Sadler during a closed-door meeting at the White House, according to The Hill, in response to McCain announcing that he opposed President Donald Trump‘s nominee for CIA director, Gina Haspel.
“It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway,” Sadler reportedly said.
The White House responded to the comments in a statement obtained by PEOPLE, saying, “We respect Senator McCain’s Service to our nation and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time.”
McCain’s wife, Cindy, 63, tweeted at Sadler on Thursday, writing, “@kellysadler45 May I remind you my husband has a family, 7 children and 5 grandchildren.”
The couple’s daughter and The View co-host, Meghan McCain, retweeted her mother’s message.
Back in April, she shared an update about her father’s health after he underwent surgery for his intestinal infection, tweeting, “My father @SenJohnMcCain is in stable condition – he continues to inspire me everyday with his intense grit and determination. Thank you to the doctors at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix and to everyone who is praying for him.”
RELATED: Meghan McCain Talks About Her Father John McCain’s ‘Crazy Amazing Recovery’ from Brain Cancer
McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer in July 2017 after undergoing a surgery to remove a blood clot above his eye last summer. He was hospitalized in December to treat side effects related to his cancer therapy.
In the wake of the diagnosis, Meghan and boyfriend Ben Domenech, 36, made the decision to get engaged and quickly plan a wedding. The couple tied the knot on Nov. 21 at the family’s ranch in Cornville, Arizona — something the senator exclusively told PEOPLE was a dream come true.
“The thing in life you want more than anything else is for your kids to be happy,” McCain said. “And I’m confident that she will be. It was really a wonderful day.”