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. Ara Rubyan

    Why wasn't Sarah Palin on the Sunday shows? Wouldn't it be, you know, customary for the new candidate to appear in person?

    Just askin.

    August 31, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |

    Republicans are Outraged over Palin Comments.

    The Republican far right is now defending the selection of Palin as the VP nominee and stating how outraged they are about comments that Palin was selected because of her gender.

    So, my question to the Republicans is this:

    We have a mythical male who was born in Montana, was a high school basketball star, avid hunter via helicopter, becomes Homecoming King at the local high school, leverages this into a place on the city council and subsequently becomes mayor of this village of 9,000. Then becomes the governor of Montana for 18 months. Would the VP nomination have been offered to him over all the other humans that were vetted for this position??? Didn’t think so, so stop pretending that the fact that this nominee has a set of ovaries did not go into the final decision. However, you are right she is not a token, she is a political pawn.

    This just in and require changes to the scenerio, Pat Buchanan on MSNBC actually called her a “girl” while Newt Gringrich said her “beauty” was a qualification for VP on F@@k the News. So, let us change our mythical male to a “handsome boy”.

    Guess it is due to the fact, that at 57 my estrogen levels must be increasing, because even I find those statements patently offensive, demeaning and condescending.

    August 31, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  3. Elizabeth for Obama

    McCain said she has foreign policy experience. Why – her son is going to Iraq. I know a lot of Mayor's and people that have been Governor with many years of service and not just the 1 1/2 years that she has.

    Come on. Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Mrs. Doyle, Mayor Guilini, and the list goes on that would have more experience.

    I have always voted Republican. But can't this year. I'm so scare that she would be one heart beat away from being President. Oh, my God.

    August 31, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  4. John

    Has any one try to find out if her last child is her's or her daughter? I bet anything it is her daughter. Just google it to find out.

    August 31, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  5. Katrina

    I think CNN has a responsiblity to explain to its readers two things about those 130 "present" votes

    a) it should mention that Obama voted yes or no 3900 times (he cast more than 4000 votes in the IL legislature)

    b) it should explain the complicated nature of the "present" option in Illinois politics (i.e. to signal personal conflict, to signal support for an overall bill but problems with some of its parts, as a party strategy, etc.)

    August 31, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  6. O.P. Neon

    Keep going. Guiliani also joined the bandwagon trying the same tune. Amazingly, the candidate he pushed forward the last time, remember Bernie Kerik, with shady past, possibly criminal conduct – all in full awareness of that mayor. So much for his judgment and values. Also, he got each vote from Americans at what price ? Others have done much better. More they defend Palin situation, more absurd it turns out to be.

    August 31, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  7. A Southern Gentleman

    I should have been Romney!!!

    August 31, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  8. Richard

    Sarah would definitely not come in 2nd place in a beauty contest against Joe Biden. I feel Joe Biden can step right in to the Commander-in-Chief spot without batting an eye. On the other hand, being commander-in-chief of the Alaskan National Guard, is very much like being a batboy on a minor league baseball team. She's not qualified to be Commander-in-Chief of the US Army. I must admit Obama may not be, either, without Biden.

    August 31, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  9. mario

    What else , common Mcsame you play the game that Karl Rove asked you to do... I think you are nuts,, with no judgement at all. This is pathetic, gambling moove.... How old are you?

    August 31, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  10. Cooper

    I'm still floored by his choice. In my view, McCain needed another younger trophy woman by his side. First, his model wife, then the mistress rodeo-queen heiress turned second wife, and now this former beauty queen. There is no other meaningful explanation.

    August 31, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  11. Ex-Republican for Obama

    She has been a zoo care taker (aka Mayor of a city in alaska) and a park ranger (aka Governor of Alaska). Taking care of a population of animals, and might I add working to eliminate the population via policies that would ruin their environment, is alot different then representing humans.

    She's not qualified to keep the animals safe, let alone humans.

    August 31, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |

    Well maybe sweet Sara will hold a bake sale, and give the donations to Health Care. She should be good at that! We have heard that she was P.T.A. President over and over again. I think she has a canned speach going for her. McCain is out of his mind, she could one day be President. So much for McCain caring about the American People. I am happy about his choice because, I dont think even his party members will vote for him. If they do they will look like idiots. Its a real joke how they try and stand up for his choice of a V.P.Is McCain so dumb he thinks the American Women will vote for him because. she is a woman? Here is a wake up call McCain." We dont want just any woman in office. We want one that will be capable running the country". Women can see right threw your act. It is a insult to women. Good luck Mccain. Maybe she will be able to attend the GOP convention, if she can find a babysitter. By the way if her husband has a job that takes him away from home all the time, and she will be away from home with V.P. duties, who is going to raise the children? Maybe she will ask you to baby sit. Happy Obama Surporter!

    August 31, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  13. CT Voter

    I cannot wait until November to send him a hell of a wake up call that his lie's and fear tactics didn't work, lieing republican trash, when did Obama say Iran was a minor irritant, what a lieing old pos, I've lost all respect for him. The man that was honorable and a POW is gone, this is a grumpy lieing old women senile fool. I can't wait to see the look on cindy's face when he cheats on her the way he did with his first wife. Cindy is lucky she has 100 million to keep this old fart around in his 500 dollar loafers.

    August 31, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  14. Rodger

    The only error Sarah has made was not to ask John McCain " Are you kidding Me?" Another example of John McCain's judgement!

    August 31, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  15. tad

    I agree with all comments here. I fear for our lives as American's if this unexperienced woman gets to be president. McCain is old and the odds say he doesn't have to much longer. Why on earth pick this woman? He could have picken so many great VPs and he really screwed up!

    August 31, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  16. Toby

    Both McCain's wives were beauty contestants, and so was his pick for VP. This tells us volumes about how he views women. Sadly, there are some women out there (we've met them on these pages) who will vote for him now because they want a woman in office, even if it's one who wants to overturn Rove v. Wade, put nine Scalias on the Supreme Court, go to war with Iran, and trash the Constitution.

    August 31, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  17. AJ

    Create a 3 a.m. ad with Mcain's VP in it. That should scare the beejesus out of our Nation and the World.

    August 31, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  18. interesting

    Palin is very impressive. The Obama Campaign, Democrats and Obamaites (and the media) have not done their research.

    Unlike Barack America, she has a RESUME and a record of accomplishments. She actually is Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard, like Bill Clinton was as Governor in Arkansas of his national guard.

    Alaska is not in the middle of no where it is between Russia and Canada and she directly (i mean directly) negotiates with them for water rights, land rights, and other matters of foreign affairs on behalf of Alaska.

    Dems need to do their homework b/c they got hoodwinked and bamboozled. LOL!

    PUMA 2008!

    August 31, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  19. Foreign observer

    American election will move towards a discussion pro life or pro choice. This is how Mc Cain tries to move the election away from the areas he is not comfortable with like f.e. economy. Pailin is the key.

    August 31, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. veronica

    WILL NOT vote for Obama and CANNOT vote for McCain. I will be sitting this election out.

    P.S. Thanks Hillary and Bill Clinton for proving that you are truly loyal Democrats.

    August 31, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  21. Ray, N.C.

    The thought of having Sarah Palin as our commander in chief if very frightening. And that's for real. All jokes aside...

    August 31, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  22. Get Real GOP

    That's because she does not even know where Iran is, second it wasn't the surge but the 100,000 former insurgents jointed Sons of Iraq in the Sunni Awakening. Now if they were still fighting would the surge have worked; take for example Afghanistan when Russia invaded the insurgency never stopped or Vietnam.

    August 31, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  23. Palin being prostituted by McCain

    I had more interviews for an administrative job than McCain's VP choice has had. This is an example of McCain's first important decision concerning our country. I have to say, Palin is willing to drag a 4 month old special needs INFANT on the campaign trail. What do the feminists think about that? This country does not realize the growing feminist agenda that has formed and it is trying to take over our country. MEN where are you? I am a woman and we need MEN to take a stand and not back down from feminist. We need confident women who are not afraid to stand for men AND women without an expectation of specialized treatment for either. Women are too emotional to lead our country.

    August 31, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  24. Dionne (Grad Student)

    It makes me upset that an African American man who has a B.A. in Political Science with a specilization in International Relations from Columbia University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School (magna cum laude) needs atleast 10 years of experience to be qualified for president. As opposed to a Caucasion woman with a B.S. in Communications-Journalism with a minor in politcal science who has been a governor for 2 years is considered qualified.

    August 31, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  25. Grace Needed

    From the Sunday political talk shows, it is apparent that Candidate McCain is more interested in people agreeing with him than anything else! Gov. Palin happens to agree with him and will provide the old-school typical woman's role of soothing the male ego and he has a big ego to soothe. He isn't anywheres near the maverick he once was, and, frankly, now I am beginning to wonder if he ever was the maverick I thought he was when we supported him in 2000. What makes him the most agitated is when he feels like people are underappreciating his positions when he has gone out on a limb for them(ie. the Surge). Just because you go out on a limb for something, doesn't guarantee it was the right position. Yes, campaign finance was, as was pork barrel spending, but I'm beginning to wonder about his motivation for taking stance on them – Was it in the best interest of the American taxpayer, or because he was unable to attain what others were under the law and was jealous for himself. Since now he acts like a spoiled child when he doesn't get his own way and others tease him on his positions. He calls names, employs unfair smears, and pouts while kicking his feet against the goad, like how dare anyone disagree with me, afterall I was a P.O.W. which I am also not sure he has ever gotten over and probably should have therapy for, since he is increasing more erratic and lacking judgment in NOT securing good counsel and advice within his own party and campaign staff. This should make us all fear for him as a senator let alone President of these United States.

    August 31, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
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