Palin defends experience

September 11, 2008 3:36:28 PM PDT
On the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, Gov. Sarah Palin took a hard-line approach on national security and said that war with Russia may be necessary if Georgia were to join NATO and be invaded by Russia. In her first of three interviews with ABC News' Charles Gibson and the only interview since being picked by Sen. John McCain as his Republican vice presidential nominee, Palin categorized the Russian invasion of Georgia as "unacceptable" and warned of the threats from Islamic terrorists and a nuclear Iran.

See Excerpts of Charles Gibson's Interview With Sarah Palin HERE.

The governor advocated for the admittance of Georgia and Ukraine into NATO.

When Gibson said if under the NATO treaty, the United States would have to go to war if Russia again invaded Georgia, Palin responded: "Perhaps so. I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you're going to be expected to be called upon and help.

"And we've got to keep an eye on Russia. For Russia to have exerted such pressure in terms of invading a smaller democratic country, unprovoked, is unacceptable," she told Gibson.

Palin, who obtained her first passport last year and who has served just two years as Alaska's governor, told Gibson that she was up to the challenge of being Sen. John McCain's vice president.

"I answered [McCain] 'yes,' because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we're on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can't blink.

Palin sat down with Gibson on a day that was filled with wrenching memories and solemn ceremonies for the nearly 3,000 people who died in the 9/11 attacks seven years ago.

It was also the day that Palin, the mother of five, attended a deployment ceremony for her oldest son, Track, an Army infantryman whose Stryker unit is being shipped off to Iraq later this month.

Palin defended a previous statement in which she reportedly characterized the war in Iraq as a "task from God".

Gibson quoted her as saying: "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God."

But Palin said she was referencing a famous quote by Abraham Lincoln.

"I would never presume to know God's will or to speak God's words. But what Abraham Lincoln had said, and that's a repeat in my comments, was let us not pray that God is on our side in a war or any other time, but let us pray that we are on God's side."

When asked if she believed she was "sending [her] son on a task that is from God," Palin said: "I don't know if the task is from God, Charlie. What I know is that my son has made a decision. I am so proud of his independent and strong decision he has made, what he decided to do and serving for the right reasons and serving something greater than himself and not choosing a real easy path where he could be more comfortable and certainly safer."

Sarah Palin Brings Surge of Support to McCain Campaign Palin, 44, virtually unknown to the American public three weeks ago, has shaken up the race just as McCain hoped she would.

She has propelled the GOP ticket into a dead heat with Obama for the first time in the campaign.

The Republican surge in the polls is the result of her appeal to the party's conservative base and to a huge wave of white women voters.

That appeal comes not just from her gender and scrappy "hockey mom" personality -- she famously compared herself to a pitbull with lipstick during her acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention -- but also from her deep religious faith, her opposition to liberal anthems like gay marriage and abortion rights, and her decision to give birth to her son despite prenatal warnings that he had Down syndrome.

Palin has trumpeted her battle with Republican mandarins of Alaska, and the cost-cutting measures she took, which included driving her own car and selling the governor's plane.

The first days of her candidacy were rocked by news that her unmarried 17-year-old daughter was pregnant and by questions of whether a mother of five could also be the vice president.

But critics quickly backed off under angry charges by the GOP as well as Democratic women that the questions were sexist.

Her fresh face and and claim to being a Washington outsider and party reformer has not only boosted McCain in the polls, but stolen the "change" mantra from Obama and put the Democratic ticket on the defensive.

And Democrats have been flummoxed over how to counter her appeal.

Sarah Palin Interview Seen as First Media Test of McCain VP Pick Palin's willingness to sit down with Gibson was expected to be a crucial first test for Palin.

Her answers will be watched by the public -- and closely scrutinized by the Democrats -- because she has not been pressed on her knowledge of national security, the economy or foreign policy.

In fact, her international experience is so limited that she received her first passport this year for a trip to Kuwait and Germany.

Palin also has not had to explain some controversies that have swirled around her public record.

Among the professional revelations discovered after she was declared McCain's running mate was the news that Palin was under investigation into claims that she abused her office to get the Alaska public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, fired after he refused to dismiss her ex-brother-in-law, a state trooper.

Given McCain's record on opposing pork barrell spending, Palin has yet to answer for her use of federal funds both as mayor and governor.

She initially supported using federal funds to build a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to Gravina Island, which has 50 residents and a small airport.

It was not until the plan collapsed in Congress under a barrage of criticism that she withdrew her support. Critics contend she still supports using federal money to build a 3.4 mile Road to Nowhere on the island for $26 million -- from the funds for the bridge.

Palin has also recently come under fire for dismissing a librarian while she was mayor of Wasilla in 1996.

The librarian lost her jobs after telling Palin she would not remove books if the mayor deemed them offensive.


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