HEMPSTEAD, New York (CNN) - John McCain Wednesday praised his running mate, Sarah Palin as a "role model to women and reformers all over America" when challenged to defend her qualifications to be president.
"It's time that we had that breath of fresh air coming into our nation's capital and sweep out the old-boy network and cronyism that's been so much a part of it," the Arizona senator said of his running mate, the first-term governor of Alaska.
McCain was speaking at his third and final debate with Democrat Barack Obama before the November 4 presidential election.
Obama offered measured praise for Palin, whose qualifications have been widely scorned by Democrats.
"I think that obviously she's a capable politician," Obama said, adding that she had "excited the base in the Republican party."