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. Joe the Troll

    Oh, please. As Governor of Alaska, she has 1/5 the constituency that Mayor Daley of Chicago has. What McCain means is that she and him drink the same Kool-Aid.

    August 31, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  2. jaime

    I have a comment to make about your network posting of how polls were doing before the convention and I notice that every four days you guy posted a different poll number when your candidate was ahead, but once McCain pulled to a dead heat or even slightly ahead you stopped posting daily numbers. Is it that you are afraid that your candidate is losing the appeal, or is it that your journalism is above your pay grade? Keep supporting the empty suit and just a nice speech candidate and your ratings will contiune down. Go inexperienced, naive, empty suit, radical and elitis Obama.

    August 31, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. T'SAH from Virginia

    PALIN would NEVER speak for herself when it comes to security – she will evade the questions or even worst – talk about what McSAME would do... It will all show at the debates with Biden – Whew!!! And as for OBAMA – he can handle McSAME, NO DOUBT ABOUT IT!!!

    OBA-DEN 2008-2016!!! YES WE CAN!!

    August 31, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. bad move

    McCain was making some progress, and in one fail swoop he's put himself on the defensive that will only get worse. Everyone is now questioning McCain's judgement and the republicans sound stupid trying to explain why this obviously bone-headed move is the right choice.

    Obama now looks even stronger and he's going to do the opposite of what the repubs think he's gonna do, which is mock Pain. Instead he's going to ignore it, focus on McCain and the repubs will keep trying to bait him with her.

    She already got booed once, this isn't a game, and the repubs have made a mockery of our government.

    August 31, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  5. B.S. Journalism> Oval Office??????

    Yeah ... she has a bachelor's in journalism and she was mayor of a town and she's been governor of a state with 600,000 people in it for over a year and a half. She is ready on day one to make the leap into the Oval Office! Rah! Rah! Rah! She is clearly ready to face the challenges in Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia and so on ........ she has the experience we need to back up McCain who, at age 72 is in the decline of his life. She is gaining legal experience with the investigation into her firing of the safety director in Alaska.

    August 31, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  6. candi

    If John McCain thinks this PTA ,Soccer mom, city council and mayor of 6000 is somehow qualified he is worse off than we all thought. For he and his people to spit out this garbage is insulting to us all. He was surely thinking of america first when he selected Ms. congenality to be vice presedent should he be elected.

    August 31, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  7. K. Rove

    There you go people! Palin KNOWS that the surge succeeded! That's all the foreign policy knowledge you NEED to run America! Until Senator Obama acknowledges this, he couldn't possibly begin to understand any aspect of American foreign policy!

    August 31, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  8. Napoleon Complex

    It was interesting to watch the Republican talking heads trying to sell Sarah Palin just like they tried to sell the Iraq Invasion. I can't believe these people can speak with a straight face when trying to compare her experience with Obama's. In addition to denying global warming and being anti-choice in all instances, she also doesn't believe in contraception even for married couples. Alaska does not have a diverse population and it's apparent that their governor is out of touch with what's going on in the rest of the country. Kerry was correct in pointing out that John McCain has become irratic. By anyone's measure the first criterion in selecting a Vice President is his or her ability to be commander-in-chief on day one. McCain failed his first test miserably and has made a mockery of "country first" by pulling such a reckless political trick.

    August 31, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  9. A Southern Gentleman

    Is it me or am I the only southern man who feels McCain let them down with this pick? I will stay with the party, however, I do feel this is the worst VP selection ever. Her executive experience is exactly like my wife's experience in the School Board since there are more people in Atlanta than the entrie state of Alaska. There are more people in Macon than there are in Waima-whatever. Last thing I want is to call someone who calls theirselves a "soccer mom" my vice president.

    Yup, the GOP forgot one core group of voters and that is Southern Men. I'd like to know who is the genius who authorized this pick.

    August 31, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  10. cnn junkie

    this whole vp pick is one big fairy tale,mccain is72 if some happens to him,300 million american,2 wars,economic downturn,putin,osama bin laden in the hands of a beauty queen.
    God help us!

    August 31, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  11. Eileen

    My 17 year old son said it best yesterday when he said "Mom, McCain just showed everybody that he cares more about winning than he does about our country. He knows that if he died she'd have to take over and she's not ready. If he cared about this country he'd make sure that his next in line was ready and capable to be President of the United States."

    August 31, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  12. McCain/palin

    The replies from democratic men concerning Sarah Palin shows which party really respects women and which party only talks about it. No wonder Obama is your nominee. He has no experience, but he's a man so that doesn't matter. He can only talk about change, she has already accomplished it.

    August 31, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  13. Rick

    How can you defend her resume, when she has none, or yeah I forgot she was on the PTO, that will help when she faces Putin, and/or the Iranian govenment. The main fact is that you choose a Vice President who can be President if something happens to the President, and with a person that has had dangerous cancer 4 times and is 72, I would say having a Vice President has the experience to step in is very important.

    August 31, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  14. Haris

    Mccain Come on! I understand this is a campaign and we can say anything to win, but a least don't say she is better prepared than Barack Obama, please be true to yourself.

    August 31, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  15. arica

    How is she experienced when she's governor of a state that has less people than the city I currently live in. C'mon people, the state's population is practically nothing. In all honesty, Obama has worked with more people on the south side of Chicago than she has in all her "many years" in office and as mayor of a town that was smaller that the High School I graduated from!

    August 31, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  16. Joshua College Station Texas

    12 years of elected office experience? Yeah, 12 years, most of which were on the PTA and as a mayor of a town of 9000 folks. C'mon, give us a break. Lol! Sounds like Hillary's old trumped up claims of 35 years of experience. Fact is, such claims are meaningless. We have to hear her speak, see her in action. I think she is a nice lady and attractive, and it is becoming more clear that she is mobilizing the Republican base because of her youth (offsets old McCain nicely), but more importantly, her shared outdated and misguided Neoconservative ideals.

    August 31, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  17. Babs

    Since when do we equate "experience" with just number of years spent in office? Let's measure it with goals reached, promises kept, issues addressed and solutions reached with the priorities of the voters always first in mind. On this level, Barack Obama has not even left the starting gate, and Sarah Palin is already half way around the track. She is the "change" we've been waiting for, not just the rhetoric, but the deeds, commitment and actions of a true reformer. I am so proud of John McCain for making this choice, and I'm a Democrat.

    August 31, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  18. Shocked in Minneapolis

    A 72 year old cancer-prone nominee who thinks his mayor-of-a-tiny-town VP choice is the best possible partner? And he and his fans have the minds to think that she's more experienced than Obama/Biden???? These are the same people that think it's bad to tour Europe and be admired. The same that think it's bad to fill stadiums with people that are fans you.

    McSame will say anything he can because he knows he couldn't fill that stadium. The reality is that the president SHOULD be that big of a celebrity. He's the leader of our country!!!

    Obama is the next hero of the free world. McCain should be McShamed. But ignorance is bliss.

    August 31, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  19. Elizabeth

    As a stark Hillary Clinton supporter, I was at first excited that McCain chose a woman because Obama didn't have the guts to do it himself. However, I was extremely upset that he chose someone that lack enough experience and education level as any of her counterparts. So, it reveals that he picked her because she was a woman and an extreme conservative to activate women voters since his campaign lacked excitement as well appealing to the super conservative base so he would not have an even greater upheaval at the convention that was expected. No woman should ever be proud of being selected when she is barely qualified to do anything but run the small state of Alaska. She is in no way, anything like Hillary Clinton so I am insulted that anyone would even dare to compare her to Hillary!

    August 31, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  20. Stop lying and spinning

    Barack Obama is more qualified to lead this country- more than Palin and McCain COMBINED. He has the wisdom, temperament, smarts, fortitude, and courage for innovation needed for this position.

    McCain is a senator with a LONG history of flip-flopping, double-agent manipulations, bad decisions, and NO LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE when it comes to US citizens. Not to mention having no integrity, especially when it comes to women.

    'nuff said.

    August 31, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  21. Hillary Supporter

    I love all these republicans posing as Hillary supporters. This woman stands for everything Hillary does not. She will not get my vote or any of my families vote. I personally have spoken to over 100 Hillary supporters yesterday and every single one of them feels insulted. Who does this woman think she is? I will tell you who she is not…She is not Hillary Clinton. McCain, you have made a grave mistake.

    August 31, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  22. Dems: Support your party!

    Sarah Palin has no experience to be PRESIDENT!

    There is a great chance that McCain won't finish his first term due to his health issues and his advanced age.

    I don't think Sarah Palin should be running the greatest nation on earth when she needs to be home running a household and RAISING HER OWN KIDS!

    August 31, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  23. north carolinian

    it has nothing to do with the fact that she is a woman for people who keep saying that. it has to do with the fact that mccain has gone on and on about experiance when his own vp who can become president by default has less experiance than obama. he contradicted himself. now obamas experiance cant be harpooned. i think he only pciked her to win hillary clinton voters. even though she doesnt support womens right to choose whehter or not to have an abortion.

    August 31, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  24. T'SAH from Virginia

    OH MY GOSH!!!! The SURGE worked!!! Is that all you need to say in order to be a Vice President????? If that's the case – THE SURGE WORKED!!!... Now, elect me for Vice President because I also coach flag football; I've coached T-ball; I played basketball in HS; I am the LEAD Sr. Programmer Analyst for IT department, and what takes the CASE – I know Osama Bin Laden is in a cave near Pakistan and Afghanistan border!!!

    JEEZ!! Give me a BREAK!!! McSAME Blew it! I am proud he choose a woman but she should have been MORE for the part!!!


    August 31, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  25. G

    John McCain cheated on his first wife with Cindy. His first wife was injured in a car accident and face was deformed, so he chose Cindy. Great values he has! Palin wants to go back to the days of illegal bathtub abortions. If McCain / Palin get elected I am leaving this country cause the US is going down if they get elected.

    August 31, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
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