McCain essentially told them that he would prefer that they stay out of the Palin book coverage and not engage in a public debate with Palin. But he also said he understood if they needed to refute factual errors or protect their own reputations.
"He apologized to everyone on the call for people having to go through this," one aide said. "Said something like, 'You are all my dear friends. This will pass. It'll pass faster if everyone will just stay out of it.'"
The aide said McCain talked about being proud of the campaign they ran and said he had moved on.
McCain received a signed copy of Palin's book Friday. Aides said the former presidential candidate hadn't spoken with Palin in months.
Palin is drawing praise and criticism from all quarters, even from conservatives.
On "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," the roundtable debated Palin's political future.
"She's a joke. I can't take her seriously," New York Times columnist David Brooks said.
"The idea that this potential talk show host is considered seriously for the Republican nomination, believe me, it will never happen. Republican primary voters are not going to elect a talk show host."
But Gwen Ifill, moderator of "Washington Week," disagreed, saying, "as the girl at the table, I feel like I can just say you cannot underestimate the degree to which women will be drawn to her story."
To ABC News' political observer Cokie Roberts, Palin's book tour could be her way of testing the waters for a potential presidential run.
"I think she's finding out if she's running for 2012," Roberts said on "Good Morning America" today. "She's seeing how this goes, how bruised she gets."
Either way, Palin is the most visible and provocative Republican in the party.
"She is just re-entering the national scene if she turns out to be dramatically more interesting and deeper than people expected. You're dealing with a national phenomenon of the first order," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Sunday on "Meet the Press."
Even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seems intrigued with the buzz surrounding Palin.
Palin spent a page of her book essentially apologizing to Clinton for previously calling her a whiner. She also mentioned the possibility of having a cup of coffee with Clinton, writing, "I know that we will fundamentally disagree on many issues, but my hat is off to her hard work on the 2008 campaign trail. … [A] lot of her supporters think she proved what [former British Prime Minister] Margaret Thatcher proclaimed: "If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman."
On "This Week" Clinton said, "Well, you know, I've never met her, and I'd look forward to sit down and talk with her."