August 31st, 2008
01:13 PM ET
14 years ago

McCain defends Palin's experience level

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="John McCain says Sarah Palin has the 'right judgment' to be VP."]

(CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain on Sunday defended the experience level and judgment of his recently-chosen running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

The 44-year-old Palin is a first-term governor, and her previous political experience has been as a mayor and a council member in a small Alaska town.

This has spurred questions about her background that emerged as topics on Sunday news talk shows, particularly because Republicans have been criticizing the experience of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace cited McCain's characterization of Obama as being "dangerously unprepared to be president" and asked McCain whether Palin is "even more dangerously unprepared" regarding national security and foreign policy.

He said Palin "understands the challenges that we face."

"Oh, no.  Look, she has got the right judgment.  She has got the right judgment.  She doesn't think, like Senator Obama does, that Iran is a minor irritant," McCain said.

McCain said Palin knows the U.S. military effort in Iraq called the surge "worked and succeeded," while Obama "still to this day refuses to acknowledge that the surge has succeeded."

McCain cites her 12 years of "elected office experience" and her work as Alaska's governor.

"I'm so proud that she has displayed the kind of judgment and she has the experience and judgment as an executive.  She has run a huge economy up there in the state of Alaska.  Twenty percent of our energy comes from the state of Alaska, and energy is obviously one of the key issues for our nation's security."

Wallace also quoted Palin last year saying "I've been focused on state government.  I haven't focused on the war in Iraq."

McCain countered that: "She has been to Kuwait.  She has been over there. She has been with her troops, the National Guard that she commands, who had been over there and had the experience. I'm proud of her knowledge of these challenges and issues.

In contrast to Obama, McCain said Palin "has had enormous responsibilities, none of which Senator Obama had."

"When she was in government, he was a community organizer.  When she was taking tough positions against her own party, Senator Obama was voting 'present' 130 times in the state legislature, on every tough issue whatever it was, while she was taking them on.  That's the kind of judgment that I'm confident that we need in Washington."

Other prominent Republicans have been making the same arguments as McCain.

But Democrats see the experience issue differently.

Former presidential candidate, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT), was asked by Wolf Blitzer of CNN's Late Edition about remarks by former Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson, who said Palin has more experience than Obama.

Dodd called Thompson's remarks "ridiculous."

"I can recite off the top of my head a number of Republican candidates, women who were far more qualified, with all due respect to Sarah Palin."

He mentioned Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell and various senators, such as Elizabeth Dole, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Susan Collins, and Olympia Snowe.

He said the choice was a "real sop to the extreme conservative elements of the Republican Party.

"John McCain's knees buckled, because he was fearful of what the extreme right was going to say about this ticket.  That's what this comes down to," Dodd said.

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle made this same point on Late Edition and added that McCain, from Arizona, was trying to shore up support in the West, where the Republicans face a strong challenge from Democrats.

soundoff (120 Responses)
  1. ba

    so funny ... she MAY know what mccain says she knows. but that's about it regarding the middle east based on her own admission of her knowledge of the iraq war. i seriously doubt she could even look at a blank map of the middle east and name all of the major nations on it! "hockey moms" aren't expected to have this type of detailed knowledge ... and she doesn't.

    August 31, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  2. A Moderate NC Chap

    Actually, while looking at what little record Palin has, I rather like what I see. She definately has the potential to be President. However, she doesn't have much experience in foreign affairs (cough any cough) and is a bit too conservative for my tastes. McCain definately could have made a better choice (Pawlenty, Hutchinson). However, if Obama is qualified to be president, she is most definately qualified to be Vice President. This would be a bigger issue if McCain wasn't healthy, but since it is, I still would prefer Palin as Vice President to Obama as President.

    Oh, and CNN, can you please post my comment?

    August 31, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  3. Lori

    McCain defends Palin;s experience...Just like he continues to defend Bush's policies?

    August 31, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  4. A Democratic Man

    McCain/palin said: "The replies from democratic men concerning Sarah Palin shows which party really respects women and which party only talks about it."

    And this shows that your party truly OES believe that he picked her because she is a woman.

    I respect women, always have. But THIS is about experience and capability, NOT gender.

    A point that SOME have evidently missed!

    August 31, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  5. Jack

    To say that Palin has more experience than Obama is ridiculous and McCain knows it. As a U.S Senator, Obama has met with world leaders, worked on every important issue of our day, and has received regular briefings from our highest level military personnel.

    This is more of the same, just like Bush did with the appointments of Alberto Gonzales, Brownie, several US attorneys, and others, McCain picked someone vastly under qualified for an important position based solely on her political ideology.

    That is putting party first, not country first. We have some very serious challenges that we're facing. We need the best and the brightest people in the most important positions. These type of decisions weaken our country.

    August 31, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  6. Woman Voter

    How many Republicans can really admit that this choice was off the wall? The ones I see on television all say it was a great choice. I cannot believe that all republicans believe that his choice is for the good of all the people in the United States (unbelievable).

    August 31, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  7. randy

    Here's something this Canadian has never understood.

    How can a Pro-lifer believe that life begins at conception, and that that life is to be protected at all costs, AND believe in capital punishment, which takes a full grown human, usually a male of a visable minority, and kills them publically?

    McCain with this pick, shows how dumb he thinks Americans from the south really are...

    August 31, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  8. Lisa, Corpus Christi, Tx

    So much for "country first". Everything word McCain utters should be suspect.

    It is quite perplexing that there are Americans actually buying into the notion that this woman is as qualified as Obama to be president if McCain were unable to fulfill his duties as president, and commander in chief.

    One can imagine the response if Obama had picked a VP with Palin's lack of credentials. McCain's comparison of the two is about as illogical an argument one can make.

    Obama was elected by millions of Americans who are confident in his abilities to preside over this country. Obama's first executive decision was to pick Biden as his VP. Thoughtful and pragmatic, clearly his motives were based on our national security needs. This the definition of "country first".

    The decision to pick Palin was McCain's alone, and frankly it is unconscionable to think ,he is gambling with our safety to convince voters that he is still a "maverick". I highly doubt that he honestly believes she is the most qualified for the job.

    This election is not about race, gender, or party affiliation. It is about the safety and well-being of the American people at this point. And, quite frankly this is one American who is experincing a great deal of anxiety at the possibility of McCain winning in November.

    Prior to the selection of his running mate, I was an Obama supporter, quite certain McCain would be a competent alternative should Obama lose in November...what the heck was I thinking?

    August 31, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |

    Too those Dems that think Sarah was picked just because she is a woman and might be accepted by Clinton supporters and scream she is not ready to be president, ought to remember McCain could have picked Rice, or any number of other Rep women that have been around for quite some time. She is a quick thinker and lets quit burying McCain before he falls over. HST by his own admission had no idea what was going on when he was suddenly in the oval office, but was gutsy like Sarah and the rest is history.

    August 31, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  10. obama/biden

    McBush's veep choice is so laughable – possibly the worst in US history right after Quayle. I love it ...the GOP is even scrambling to package her. We'll rip right into her apart after Gustav. I think she knows what might be coming her way. And, btw, Moore said something funny. In effect, it proves that God exists – He blew the GOP convention right off its stage.

    Did you know that Palin is a creationist? Great...just great...a person a heart beat away from POTUS who doesn't believe in SCIENCE.

    August 31, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  11. KT

    Well, this is a nobrainer. We have a presidential nominee with less experience than his VP choice that has a lot of experience, then we have presidential nominee with lots of experience that has chosen VP with very little experience. Now, God forbid that anything happens to either candidate, will our country be safer in the hands of the VP with loads of experience or should we take a chance on VP that knows nothing about running a country. Come on people, should the country not come first?

    August 31, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  12. Sarah

    Would all the questions, comments, and opinions about Gov.Palin's experience be so pronounced if she was the male governor of a state being chosen as the VP candidate? Of course not. The sexist attitudes exhibited against Hillary Clinton are now being exibited against Gov. Palin. American women need to wake up to this and realize that sexism must not be tolerated. Women must be treated as equals not just to men, but to any other minority, especially if they are to ever achieve the highest of political offices.

    August 31, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  13. maurice

    i was gonna sit this election out. but thank you obamaites i have decided other wise. i dont agree with everything mcain has to say but atleast he`s more than just a suit smile and a cheerleader. i watched the dnc completely. and after it was done ,they pushed the best democratic nomonee to the durb. thanks again to our voting system. just like gore was robbed of the 2004 election thanks to our great voting rules. it used to be by the people for the people. now it is by the ones in power for the ones in power. and if for 1 minute you think obama is for change look at his vp choice 20+years in politics. now thats change i can live w/o. 113 votes as present on the senate floor. hmmmm. and he even voted as present on the iraqi war. is that opposing it. actions do speak volumes. and on the iraqi war how many of you obama people can say you opposed the war in iraq. or you down with tobby keith sayin lets kick their back far as the economy goes what do you expect when the world trade center is left in a rubble. 5 years in a war. pushing gas prices higher than they ever have been.a crooked loan scam sending housing down the tubes. and folks biden wasnt elected vp either. he was picked just like palin. read past the headlines for once. use your computer to research things it actually does work for things other than just headlines.and maybe just maybe we`ll elect hrc in 2012. until then i`ll vote for mcain/palin. and its not because im a sore looser i have voted for a republican president since regan. although i have voted democrat for other offices. and on that note it takes more than just the president to wreck the economy and country it takes 100`s of congressmen and women and 100`s of senators. do your home work then vote for a president not because you like the way he cheerleads but because of what he can do for america. and vote for a senator and a congressman/women that can help america. not because he or she is the incumbent or republican democrat or liberal. that is what got us in this mess to begin with. party lines. its time for we the people to have our voices heard and not just a few select people in washington.because all the democrats and republicans that have been in office for more than 2 terms are old washington politics. think about that while you vote this year. do you really want change or as you obamaites say more of the same.

    August 31, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  14. Are You For Real??

    I've heard several Republicans try to argue that because Sarah Palin lived in Alaska NEAR Russia, that she knows what's going on with foreign relations. This is the most absurd and ridiculous notion/spin I've ever heard in my adult voting life!
    Therefore, I'm sooooo excited! I just realized I'M QUALIFIED to be Vice-President!! Here's my argument: I used to live in Florida, which is NEAR Cuba; I have children; I teach Economics; I am a woman under the age of 45. This apparently means that I have foreign policy experience (especially in dealing with communist governments), can deal with hurricanes and their aftermath, and have the ability to straighten out our economy. PUHLEEASE!! I just hope and pray that the American public will not accept this blatant attempt to pander to women. I'm insulted that certain individuals to the right believe we are that stupid. OBAMA/BIDEN 08'!!!

    August 31, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  15. Another Sarah

    I am a woman , let me say that some of the criticism of Sarah Palin is NOT sexist. It is not sexist to wonder why a woman with a 4 month old infant who has downs syndrome and is still breast feeding, would take such an important job at this juncture. She should have said thanks, but no thanks. I do not respect her doing doing this. If the children were older it would be different but she does not even know at this baby's young age how much care she will need. A baby needs his/her mother. This is the vice president position, not just any job. Be real. It is an offense to all women everywhere for them to compare her to Hilary. She couldn't be father away from Hilary on the issues. I will not vote for McCain now.

    August 31, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  16. Republican for Obama

    There is no defense adequate enough to support McCain's terribly flawed choice in Palin. This decision is plain token politics and I have faith that American Women are smarter than this. They should be completely insulted by McCain's selection of Palin.

    August 31, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  17. Cecil

    Very Poor Choice, Who Is She?

    After 18 Month Many Of You GOPs Claim You Still Don't Know Who Sen. Obama Is.

    And We Live In The Information Age!

    Now Exactly Who Is This 44-year-old Palin, That's A Heart Beat Away From Being President!

    August 31, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  18. S. Abraham

    John McCain says Barak Obama is "too inexperienced" to be in the Oval Office yet he picks a running mate with far less experience who as at August 1st of this year did not know the job function, or role, or what it even means to be the Vice President of our great nation.

    If John McCain could spuriously select a running mate, what do you think he will do as President with all the executive powers and nuclear arsenal at his disposal?

    He is clearly "bootlegged" version of G.W. Bush and, if the original G.W. Bush couldn't deliver in eight years, why should we waste four more years by taking a chance on a counterfeit?

    August 31, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  19. Ike from PA

    I want to comment on this talk about Gov Palin deciding on bringing a child to term dispite the fact that she was told the baby will have down syndrome. My wife and I are both pro-choice. When we were asked about having a test to determine if our child would have development issues, we decided not to have the test at all. We knew we would love the baby regardless of the condition.

    My point is that decisions such as these are made everyday by pro-life and pro-cholce Americans. These decisions also are extremely private. Do you think that any candidate actually made the choice to NOT bring the pregnacy to term would actually talk about it in a political campaign? Then why is it brought up because she made the choice to continue the pregnancy. I certainly hope that Gov. Palin and Sen McCain is not looking to score political points on this issue. I myself would find it insulting.

    August 31, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  20. NurseWahl

    Melanoma detected on Mc Cain in 1993, 2000 and 2008. When caught early, the five-year survival rate is at least 91 percent, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. With melanoma stage III, there is very little chance. Stage I or II detection is the most important thing." Only 35 percent to 50 percent of people with stage III melanoma and 5 percent to 10 percent with stage IV disease will achieve long-term survival. And surgery, they stated, is still the only treatment that has "stable and predictable success.The only chemotherapy that works is interferon, and that has, at best, only a 15 percent to 20 percent response rate. That means tumor shrinkage. It's not a cure rate."We have produced a lot of adjuvant therapies, but they don't work," AAD

    August 31, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
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