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. SF for Obama

    How does anyone know what her stance on Iran is? Has she ever expressed one? Does she know where it is? I have to ask, because 2 weeks ago she didn't even know what a VP does.

    We don't need more Bush/Cheney/McCain abuses of power.

    Vote Obama/Biden.

    August 31, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  2. mom of two

    Couple of things about experience argument comparing Obama to Palin..... First of all, Obama is a Harvard Law graduate who teaches LAW..... just take a moment and think about it. He teaches in university how to judge and see one thing from all different aspects. Palin has a undergraduate degree in journalism and her dream was to be a Hokey reporter!!! so please give me a break ...... the other thing is that Obama was selected, and earned his position every step of his way. She was selected as a figure to attract woman's vote.
    When I read about biography of McCain , the way he left his first wife after she went though a car accident , to the fact that he married a good looking rich woman , all the way to choosing his VP so he gets the women's vote ...... all tells me one thing, he doesn't get it and he doesn't realize this is not the way to show respect to women.

    August 31, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  3. Foreign observer

    Mc Cain knows that in case the VP takes office an unexperienced person will be guided by the interest groups of the Republican party. This is why Bush loves the decision.

    August 31, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  4. corin


    hello camp mccain these are the same talking points this isnt change we believe in.. We now know Mccain really wanted to pick liberman.... but his repub... buddies you know rush limnuts,,blackwell and other bullies pushed for Palin...

    August 31, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  5. Tubby The Tuba

    This is now the tale of the Beast and the Beauty, both rather empty. Mayor of a town of 7,000 and 20 months as Gov. of a State that had 666,000 people in the 2000 federal census. I guess that religous Republican right wing group that asked for its members to pray for rain so that Obama could not have good weather for his acceptance what they prayed for, only GOD chose the Democrata because their weather was beautiful for Barack. This is something the media should grab hold of for truly interesting reading.

    August 31, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  6. Don

    Is McCain mad? Because he trying to justify this pick is annoying me.

    Does he think the office of President is a joke. Seriously? How can one

    person play politics with that office. Obama was elected, Palin was

    selected by someone who hardly knew her.

    August 31, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  7. Des,Toronto,Canada

    Americans are missing the point already,you have John McCain who is trigger happy, willing to use nuclear weapons on Iran and possibly Russia and now this lady, who knows foreign policy because Alaska is near to Russia,who can become president.She is a right wing nut just like he is and knows nothing about foreign policy or the economy and it is the economy stupid!!!

    Obama-Biden for sure 08-12

    August 31, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  8. Great Pick

    The VPpic is great! Palin has foriegn exp because Russia is close to Alaska . She knows that so she knows how foriegn policy works. She is a "hockey mom" with 5 kids, Alaska doesn't have any crime or housing problems so she will be good at dealing with that. She will make cupcakes for those countries that don't like us just like the PTA. I am excited about this pic. Pro-life but for the death penalty , you can't make this stuff up.

    August 31, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  9. jeff

    I am a Hillary supporter.
    I understand that Palin has little national or foreign experience.
    BUT se as VP would be learning from McCain who would be president
    When on the dems side the president Obama would be learning from his VP Biden.
    Isn't the president the one who is supposed to be the more qualified over his VP choice.

    Also Palin has run a state and billions of dollars while Obama has organized unemployed workers.

    August 31, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  10. Mike, FL

    This shows lMcCain's ack of judgement. You telling me She is more qualified than Mit Romeny or Dr. Rice?

    She has only a B.S. in Journalism and was a sport comentator just 8 years ago.

    Her selection is a joke!!!

    August 31, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  11. 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 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  12. Get Real GOP

    I have a 2 years executive experience running a Walmart store I guess that makes me qualified to be the CEO.

    August 31, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  13. Mark Billingsley

    McPain playing politics again...what Obama actually said, McPain, is that as far as threats go Iran is less of a threat than RUSSIA. That was the correct context of what he said last week, you moron and you know it, too. You that's the complete quote and context and you know Obama is correct too. But go ahead and pick a fight with Iran so you look tough. But beware, McPain, Iran is capable of biting back.

    August 31, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  14. Ellen

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Chicago IL is 2 or 3 times more populated than the entire state of Alaska. Why does mccain talk to Americans as though they are foolish?? Well maybe they are foolish because people can't see him for who/what he is and the repugs are going to continue to insult your intelligence untill you my fellow Americans learn to stand up for yourselves and say no to this kind of politics.

    CNN-Pls post my comments

    August 31, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  15. Fred

    By looking at what she has done since she has been in politics and seeing what she has done as governor for Alaska, I can see that
    though it was a surprise, McCain has made the right choice. You go

    August 31, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |

    Any manager at Pizza Hut can claim "executive experience" which would be comparable to Palin's 8 years on the Wisalla city council and the mayor, neither are qualified to be a VP nominee.

    And rememer, Obama was ELECTED and Palin was SELECTED by an angry and desperate old man, whose decisions continue to show his diminished mental capacity.

    August 31, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  17. Mathilde

    As a feminist, I resent hearing that one can not criticize another women's qualifications for a job. I do that in my job all the time. I would not hire Sarah Palin for VP.

    August 31, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  18. RyanD.

    GOP talking heads, stop trying to pretend Democrats are being sexist.

    It won't work, American women are smarter than that.

    August 31, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  19. Ambrose Smith, Borrego Springs, California

    McCain caved in to Rush Limbaugh

    What a chump.

    Pawlenty would have been his best choice.

    This Independent is disappointed in McCain.

    My vote goes to Obama and Joe Biden.

    August 31, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  20. No to Palin!

    12 years? She left the town where she was mayor in millions in debt. She is under investigation and prior to being a governor for 20 months! she was a mayor of a town smaller than my pinky finger and city council woman!!!

    I am not voting for a Republican but I know there were qualified women that McCain could have chosen Kay Bailey or Snowe.

    This ticket is a joke to Americans during a great time of despair.

    August 31, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  21. Brent

    It's ridiculous to compare the experience of Obama and Palin. Lets put aside the fact that Obama opposed this war while spelling out exactly why ( all of which has happened showing his judgement and understanding of history ), and that since being a senator has been on the foreign relations committee working on things such as nuclear proliferation with Sen. Lugar. I'll put all that aside and still say this is ridiculous. Obama has been running for president, been in countless debates and has shown the people where he stands and why. In turn he has had millions of people support him and show they believe he is ready by VOTING FOR HIM IN THE PRIMARIES. Palin was chosen by ONE MAN who met her once. This is a joke.

    August 31, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  22. R

    Everyone knows how upset the republican party is right now, they just want to put up a phony show because they want their yes man and yes woman in the white house. If I was Mitt Romney, I'd be pissed! I figured they would try and get some sort of competition w any of the former presidential republican candidates, but he picked someone who he met only one time! It doesn't make sense. Sure, he picked a WOMAN, but let's be real for a moment, gender doesn't matter, competence does. This lady is MARRIED to a man who work for "BIG OIL" BP that's a match made in heaven. Mccain is too old to be president, this is his 3rd attempt, and he's got one foot in the grave already. How can republicans feel comfortable that a "soccer mom" is next to bat should something happend to Mccain, which is likely? That's the scariest thing in the world. Who's running Mccain'? KARL ROVE?

    August 31, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  23. LA33ROSS

    From what I'm reading, it appears no one is falling for this trick for votes. It doesn't matter that she is a woman. She is a woman that holds the same views as republicans. I am sick of those who vote for president based on Pro-life views alone. He joked about bombing Iran and he states that he knows little about the economy. Why vote for this man? Because he is pro-life. God gives all free will. Why allow government to take that away.

    August 31, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  24. Mike, TX

    When Obama was a community organizer, Palin was on the city council of a town with less than 10,000 people. That McCain actually counts that as experience is ridiculous. As far as taking "tough positions against her own party," what exactly were those positions? Last time I checked, she supported basically everything the party supported, including the Bridges to Nowhere. Not only is Palin completely inexperienced, but she is currently under investigation by the state of Alaska for corruption.

    August 31, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  25. Reg from Florida

    The most absurd statement I have ever heard from a seantor running for the presidency. Besides the neocons, can someone talks to the old man?

    August 31, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
1 2 3 4 5