September 30th, 2008
10:55 AM ET
11 years ago

McCain: Palin the next Clinton or Reagan

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="McCain said Monday Palin is being underestimated, just as Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were."]

(CNN) - Sarah Palin may just be the next Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton - two previous governors underestimated by the national media who went on to win the White House, John McCain said Monday.

Appearing alongside Palin in an interview on CBS, McCain reiterated his confidence in the Alaska governor, even as several conservatives suggested she is unqualified for the No. 2 spot on a national ticket.

"This is not the first time that I've seen a governor being questioned by some quote, 'expert,' " McCain told CBS' Katie Couric as Palin looked on. "I remember that Ronald Reagan was a 'cowboy.' President Clinton was a governor of a very small state that had 'no experience' either. I remember how easy it was going to be for Bush I to defeat him.

"But the point is I've seen underestimation before," McCain added. "I'm very proud of the excitement that Gov. Palin has ignited with our party and around this country. It is a level of excitement and enthusiasm, frankly, that I haven't seen before. And I'd like to attribute it to me. But the fact is that she has done incredible job. And I'm so proud of the work that she's doing."

The comments come after Palin's widely panned interview with Couric last week during which the Republican VP candidate struggled through several answers on her foreign policy credentials and the proposed economic bailout. The comments instantly became fodder for late-night comedians and prompted criticism from several conservative corners that Palin appeared to be in over her head. But a counter-chorus has also emerged, as supporters have publicly urged the campaign not to keep Palin so isolated from the media and to allow her unfiltered audience interaction.

“Holding Sarah Palin to just three interviews and microscopically focusing on each interview I think has been a mistake,” former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney told MSNBC’s "Morning Joe" on Monday. “I think they'd be a lot wiser to let Sarah Palin be Sarah Palin. Let her talk to the media, let her talk to people."

But also in the interview with Couric on Monday, McCain decried "gotcha" journalism as he sought to downplay Palin's recent comments that suggested she would support crossing into Pakistan from the Afghanistan to root out terrorists.

"I understand this day and age of "gotcha" journalism, was that a pizza place?" McCain said regarding where Palin made the comments. "In a conversation with someone who you didn't hear … the question very well, you don't know the context of the conversation, grab a phrase. Gov. Palin and I agree that you don't announce that you're going to attack another country."

The comments came during Palin's visit to a cheesesteak restaurant in Philadelphia on Saturday night, when a voter asked if she supported a cross-border attack on Pakistan

"If that's what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should," Palin responded, in comments that contradict McCain's long-standing position of consulting with Pakistan before carrying out attacks on terrorists within its borders.

soundoff (1,561 Responses)
  1. Independent Voter

    Are you kidding me...I wouldn't compare this hick with anyone!!

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2008&2012

    September 30, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  2. Joyce

    Does McCain think that if he keeps saying something over and over that people will believe him? Palin compares in no way to Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton because of her lack of Clinton's education and her lack of Reagan's ability to communicate. Another significant difference is that she has chosen to be McCain's vice president in some kind of nutty second-banana internship, instead of running for the top job on her own. Clinton would never have done that, and Reagan didn't do it.

    September 30, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  3. Meridith, KS

    McCain is an idiot. How powerful did this woman look when doing a joint interview with McCain. She should be supporting him but it's the other way around. She looked like she had to go and get her father because she couldn't handle the interview. If she can't handle Katie Couric, you can just imagine how she will be with world leaders.

    The joke is over America, let's get down to business and select the best two people for the job–Barack and Joe.

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 30, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  4. Moon over your 'bammy

    Proud to have voted for the very BEST candidate- Hillary Clinton.

    All yee haters for Obama... suffer the repercussions for all your dirty, vulgar, foul, filthy, denigration of a great warrior leader.


    Because she was female and not a young black male.

    September 30, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  5. Steve/ Houston,TX

    I knew Reagan, I know Clinton. Sarah Palin, you are no Reagan/Clinton!

    September 30, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  6. Jill American

    Where did Regan go to school?

    September 30, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  7. SB in NoVA

    Ridiculous question ... but for the sake of it, hmmmmm .... let's see take a look from the beginning ....

    BS Georgetown
    Rhodes Scholarship Oxford
    JD Yale


    5 school/5 Year BS in Communications (funny ... that's sort of what she actually seems to be doing ... "BS" in communicating) Univ of Idaho.

    Enough said! The only thing Clinton and Palin have in common is that their last name ends in "n".

    Once again ... I'm voting for the SMART one!

    Obama/Biden '08 and beyond!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 30, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  8. TC

    HA HA. Thank you cnn. I needed a good laugh today.

    September 30, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  9. Sarah in South NJ

    HA! Bill Clinton compared to Palin!

    means he's a moron which has been more noticable of late.

    I propose the Barbie Doll song for Palin's theme song.

    September 30, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  10. V.O.R

    Palin is clearly not ready.. I don't know how republicans can justify McCain's VP choice at this point. He had so much more time than Obama to properly vet candidates for his VP spot. This was a terrible gimmick that is back firing on McCain big time. How can anyone dem or rep honestly say they feel confident in putting theirs that their childrens future in Palins hands. Not I.

    September 30, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  11. Susan


    She can match Clinton in that only.

    September 30, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
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