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. sylvia

    McCain is already speaking for his VP, Palin. He is already making excuses for his VP. It does not look good.

    August 31, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  2. DC Insider

    She has better experience than Obama and she is #2 on the ticket - Obama better call off the attack dogs – Kerry and others -

    August 31, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  3. Todd

    How the hell does McCain know she has the right judgement. He met with her once, and she has never mad a statement on foreign policy EVER. Call her someone who knows the energy crisis, or say she has conservative values. But do not say that she has judgement in foreign policy and insult peoples intelligence.

    August 31, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  4. Obama Bin Binden

    No Way
    No How
    No Bama

    McCain/Palin 08

    August 31, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  5. Joseph Claghorn

    I think it is hilarious that Republicans have been saying for the last 18 months "we don't know enough about Obama...he's not ready to lead." but after purusing Palin's biography for 18 minutes, are ready to proclaim "she's ready to lead on day one." This coming from a woman who said back in March she didn't have an opinion on Iraq because she was too busy running a state and a family to give it much thought. I sincerely hope this woman surprises us all, but making such a monumental decision based on a minimal amount of face time.

    The real reason republicans are ready to proclaim her "ready to lead" is because she is anti-abortion. Apparently that is the only litmus test necessary in modern politics to determine whether someone is fit for office.

    August 31, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  6. sarah1

    face it obama and the dems are running scared. they know that this woman has more executive experience than obama and biden put together and is very popular. mr. hopey-changey dropped the ball. he wanted to be historic but he wanted it for him alone and now will be history in nov. because mccain was the one smart enough to show the world that women count in america. if you in the media and obama camp keep taking pot shots at her gender you will be the ones left behind.

    August 31, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  7. DC Insider

    Dodd is irrelevant – so is any other comment or argument about the #2 on the ticket - We vote for #1 and that is McCain v Obama and Obama is not ready to lead – just ask Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden who have stated this a number of times.

    August 31, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  8. AB

    So thinking that 'Iran is not a minor' is enough to make her be ready to become president of the united states? What old joke this old guy has become!!

    August 31, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  9. Mike Dallas

    Dear Sarah Quayle Palin.

    I have just viewed both rallies back to back. The Republican rally still seems more like small school pep rally, but now it appears they have a cheerleader, excuse me, the ticket "dynamo" in Republicanese.. Sarah, we cut you some slack yesterday but today we were looking for some substantive comments about issues, remember Sarah your the one that has to be quick on the uptake in case you have to step in and be the leader of the Free World. However, what we got was your same speech you gave yesterday but with more fawning over McCrypt. Since you may not have gotten the memo and I do understand the top of the Republican ticket is a bit light on computer skills, here is a tip, we have Google now in 2008 and we knew your entire life story yesterday within 10 minutes of hearing your name(it was short read), tip number 2, the source is called Wikipedia. We already know your kids and husband’s names so spare the introductions for the 66 days. I did learn that Todd does some kind of snowmobile race thing, now there's news you can use while at the negotiation tables with North Korea about nukes. Of course, you could take a Power Point presentation of all the different species of dead animal heads hanging from the walls of your house. Maybe regale them with stories of how being that basketball star fits right in with talk about nukes. to the degree they both fly though the air. Be sure and mention that you were nicknamed Barracuda in high school while on the girl's basketball squad, that is sure to scare the begeezus out of the North Koreans. Maybe take the rifle and shoot a card out Putin's hand when your discussing the Russian/Georgia conflict that will show him your a woman to be reckoned with, and be sure and flash that smile that won you that Miss Congeniality title in the Miss Wasilla contest. So see, Sarah, I wasn't kidding about that whole Google/Wiki thing.

    So, to continue, the next rally was the Obama/Biden rally in which your equal ticked off statistics of how your new BFF has wasted tax payers dollars and how he wants to give 400 billion dollars worth of tax credits to big business. That McCrypt wants to spend 10 billion dollar a month in Iraq for up to the next 100 years. We need facts like that, Sarah, so we can make a valid comparison, oh, but I forgot, you shared the fact that you know how to prepare moose burgers with us during your speech. Silly me, I did learn something.

    If you think I have been harsh with you, just wait until the press corp inside the Beltway gets a shot at you during your first news conference. So, I am going to end on a gracious note, because you truly seem like a nice woman with a nice family, so here is my advice, stay away from grade school spelling bees, and on the night of the Vice Presidential debates, take the family to Disneyland.

    P.S. Sarah, I would not count on your new BFF knowing where Iran is located, geography does not seem to be a strong suit!

    August 31, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. Proud !!! Pro - Life Dem .Yes There Are Pro - Life Dems !!!!

    John You Show Great Judgment !!!! , In Selecting Sarah As Your Vice President !!! . Sarah Rocks !!!!

    This Democrat Approves !!!!

    John McCain / Sarah Palin President & Vice President of The United States of America . 2008 !!!!!

    August 31, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. carolc

    Everyone must know that there isn't much that can get done in our government without months of arguing between the Republicans and Democrats. If we would just get down to business of running our country like a business and keep it running without borrowing the money we waste like business has to do, we would not have any problems. There is so much corruption in our local,state, and federal governments that it doesn't matter who gets elected.

    August 31, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  12. Tatjana

    I don't agree with some of her stands on issues.
    However , for the Dems to question Palin's level of eperience is laughable , because that brings you back to the questin of Obama's lack of experience and achievements.
    She outshines them all.
    I rather have Palin a second heartbeat away from the Presidency , than Pelosi being a third.

    August 31, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  13. Mk

    Hmmm but I thought she was too busy with affairs in Alaska to pay much attention to the Iraq war?
    Which is it. The truth or the McCain VERSION of the truth?

    August 31, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  14. Shirley-Ohio

    It is all political and I am going with the candiate who will change Washington forever. Obama has been vetted, and tested by the American people who in change selected him to be the Democratic nominee. Bush pulled some tricks out of the box on McCain and McCain had to drop out of the 2004 race. McCain will do anything to win including putting America in jepordy in the event that at age 72 something will happen to hm. McCain not win and shame on his for undercutting his short list.

    August 31, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  15. Max

    How can the surge succeed if there is no relevant mission in Iraq? McCain is quick to say that the Iraq war is a success, but hesitates to describe what he considers a success. He's just blowing hot air, and it reeks of the same stench as Bush's "Mission Accomplished" banner.

    August 31, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  16. alvino

    My question to McCain is, "Does Palin know we should not have gone into Iraq in the first place?"

    Remeber, Obama was selected by voters in the primaries, Palin selected by an individual after one interview.

    August 31, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  17. Independent

    Don't insult our intelligence. Does McCain think that just saying these things will make them true?

    August 31, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  18. jean

    I am still stunned by this choice. Since her foreign policy experience is limited to living in Alaska – which Cindy McCain says gives her an "idea" of what is going on in Russia – maybe they can send her to deal directly with Putin. After all, she was "Miss Congeniality." If her charm doesn't work, may she can try twirling fire batons....God help us.

    August 31, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  19. FactCheck

    Does she know the difference between the Sunnis and the Shia? That would make her much more knowledgeable in world affairs than you McCain.

    August 31, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  20. paying attention... CT Voter

    Did she say all this before or after she said she hadn't given much thought about Iraq.... has she been to any other countries? Are there any ghettos in Alaska? How's Crime there? How's the housing market? Has 70% of Americans ever visited Alaska? Is Hilary still whining?

    Give me a break McCain


    August 31, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  21. Festus, Montana

    Leave it up to McCain to go somewhere half-cocked with 300 million
    peoples' lives and children's lives at stake pretending to be fictional
    characters like "maverick", and selling wolf tickets. I haven't seen a
    more dangerous couple since Boris and Natasha on the old Rocky
    and Bullwinkle cartoon.

    August 31, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  22. Obama-Junkie, IL

    Nothing like a 72-year old man speaking for a 44-year old womman on what she thinks about these important national issues. Will she speak for herself?

    August 31, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  23. txpoet

    I love McCain's choice for VP. I really thought he would choose a male, more experienced, but Palin is down to earth, well rounded on the issues, and I love her already! I trust McCain on the fact he wont be like Bush and he cares for America. I have been democrat but I am switching.

    August 31, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  24. Linda Marie

    Polls show that the most important issue to voters is the economy. McCain admits that the economy is his weak area, so I thought he would choose someone who was strong on economic issues. A republican publication in Alaska calls the Palin Administration "redneck socialism" and says "Alaska could have a very limited economic future." – August 18,2008 Is the media going to address this major concern?

    August 31, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  25. Tyler in Raleigh

    Wait.... so now its "judgment" that counts to McCain an dnot experience??????

    Isn't that the argument Obama has made since the start. That he had the judgment to see that the Iraq War was a mistake??? McCain called those "pretty words", but now Palins "words" make her qualified..... why????? Because her words support him while his words did not????

    Way to put country first Mr. McCain!!!!

    August 31, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
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