[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/29/art.palinreax.ap.jpg 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.