The former campaign manager for the failed presidential bid of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told a crowd Friday that a presidential campaign of ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin would be "catastrophic."

"I think that she has talents, but my honest view is that she would not be a winning candidate for the Republican candidate in 2012, and in fact, were she to be the nominee, we would have a catastrophic election result," GOP operative Steve Schmidt said.

"In the year since the election has ended, she has done nothing to expand her appeal beyond the base," he added. "Th[e] independent vote is going to be up for grabs in 2012. That middle of the electorate is going to be determinative of the outcome of the elections. I just don't see that if you look at the things she has done over the year... that she is going to expand that base in the middle."

The little noted remarks were posted on The Atlantic magazine's live blog for their conference, "First Draft of History" and caught by Eric Kleefield. Fuller remarks were posted by The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder.

Kleefield notes that Schmidt is said to have been one of those who pushed for Palin's inclusion on the GOP ticket, reportedly saying of criticism from GOP heavyweight Karl Rove: "Karl's wrong. She's an exceptional governor, a reform governor in Alaska."

Schmidt has become more iconoclastic in the past year, and took flak after telling a gay newspaper that the Republican Party should embrace gay marriage.

"I think the Republican Party should not be seen by a broad majority of the electorate as focused with singularity on issues like gay marriage," he said. "The attitudes of voters about gay marriage and about domestic partnership benefits for gay couples are changing very rapidly and for voters under the age of 30, they are completely disconnected from what has been Republican orthodoxy on these issues."

"Any campaign that would go out and try to demonize people on the basis of their sexual orientation," he added, "is abhorrent and I suspect that that campaign would be rejected."

Schmidt was also an aide to former President George W. Bush.