Sarah Palin Interview


Updated In Gov. Sarah Palin’s much-anticipated interview with ABC News, she said she “didn’t blink” when Senator John McCain asked her to be his running mate.

Charles Gibson, the interviewer, asked her if she didn’t hesitate and question whether she was experienced enough.

“I didn’t hesitate, no,” she said.

He asked if that didn’t that take some hubris.

“I answered him yes,” Ms. Palin said, “because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can’t blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we’re on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can’t blink. So I didn’t blink then even when asked to run as his running mate.”

Ms. Palin, the governor of Alaska, is making her debut news interview, 13 days after Mr. McCain plucked her from relative obscurity to fill the second-most powerful position in the country and perhaps the most powerful, should the need arise.

The McCain campaign selected Mr. Gibson to be her first questioner, and the network is taking the opportunity to stretch out its eye in the spotlight as curiosity about Ms. Palin has sent network ratings soaring.

Excerpts from Mr. Gibson’s first interview are to appear tonight on “World News” at 6:30 P.M., Eastern, and again on “Nightline” tonight. There’s more on Friday, starting with “Good Morning America” at 7 A.M., then again on “World News” and on “20/20,” which will broadcast a one-hour special edition at 10 P.M.

The network teased the interview on its Web site this afternoon with this eye-popping bulletin: “Exclusive: Gov. Sarah Palin warns war may be necessary if Russia invades another country.”

But the transcript showed that she was merely repeating Mr. McCain’s position and had not used provocative language. And we’re wondering if the McCain camp is reconsidering its selection of ABC, since it hyped the teaser to sound like Ms. Palin was ready to press the button.

Anyway, she said that she believes, as Mr. McCain does, that Ukraine and Georgia should be admitted to NATO. Mr. Gibson then asked: “And under the NATO treaty, wouldn’t we then have to go to war if Russia went into Georgia?”

“Perhaps so,” Ms. Palin responded. “I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you’re going to be expected to be called upon and help.”

A moment later, Mr. Gibson asked: “And you think it would be worth it to the United States, Georgia is worth it to the United States to go to war if Russia were to invade?”

She responded: “What I think is that smaller democratic countries that are invaded by a larger power is something for us to be vigilant against. We have got to be cognizant of what the consequences are if a larger power is able to take over smaller democratic countries. And we have got to be vigilant. We have got to show the support, in this case, for Georgia. The support that we can show is economic sanctions perhaps against Russia, if this is what it leads to.”

Update: Well, Ms. Palin just finished her 10-minute segment on the evening news. She appeared extremely rehearsed, especially when she repeated three times that she did not want to “second guess” Israel.

And she seemed blind-sided by the question about the Bush doctrine, guessing that Mr. Gibson was asking about Mr. Bush’s “world view.” Mr. Gibson explained later that he wanted to know what she thought of his idea of “anticipatory self-defense.”

Granted, this might not be something that your average hockey mom would know, but it probably is something that a commander-in-chief-in-waiting might have considered.

Ms. Palin appeared as an eager student, someone who has crammed for an exam and was repeating talking points. But she also tried to sound emphatic and serious at the same time she wanted to be friendly, with many interjections of “Charlie.”

Mr. Gibson had an avuncular air about him — in some ways, he was as much on the carpet as Ms. Palin was, having been filleted for asking what critics perceived as irrelevant questions during a Democratic debate last spring and then going easy last week on Mr. McCain at the Republican convention, where he was the only anchor to score an interview with the nominee. He asked Ms. Palin the central questions about her preparedness to lead the country.

Mr. Gibson noted that the job of vice president is not just about reforming a government but “running a government on a huge international stage in a very dangerous world.” He told Ms. Palin he had asked Mr. McCain about her national security credentials and that Mr. McCain had pointed to her commanding of the Alaska National Guard and noted that Alaska is close to Russia. Are those sufficient credentials?

“But it is about reform of government, and it’s about putting government back on the side of the people,” Ms. Palin responded. She started to talk about energy independence, drawing on her experience with oil and gas development in Alaska, when Mr. Gibson interrupted to say, “National security is a whole lot more than energy.”

“It is,” she conceded, “but I want you to not lose sight of the fact that energy is a foundation of national security.”

Then came a few rapid-fire questions, making us wonder if this had been edited or if their exchange went like this in real time.

He asked whether she had ever traveled outside of the United States.

Answer: Canada, Mexico and “the trip of a lifetime” to Kuwait, when she visited soldiers.

Has she ever met a foreign head of state?

“I have not,” she responded, but noted that a lot of previous vice presidents had probably not either.

Here she tried to convert a perceived weakness into a virtue and highlighted her image as an outsider. “We got to remember what the desire is in this nation at this time,” she said. “It is for no more politics as usual and somebody’s big fat resume, maybe, that shows decades and decades in that Washington establishment, where, yeah, they’ve have had opportunity to meet heads of state.”

That probably gives you a good idea of how she’s going to go after Senator Joseph Biden (remember him?) when they have their V.P. debate on Oct. 2. This was a clearly studied response against Mr. Biden’s cred as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Mr. Gibson asked her what insight she had gained from living in such close proximity to Russia.

“You can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska,” she said.

He then tried to pin her down on how she would respond if Israel felt threatened and took out an Iranian nuclear facility. She avoided answering directly, saying she would not “second guess” Israel, prompting Mr. Gibson to ask her several different times, each time eliciting the same phrase, that she would not “second guess” what Israel needs to do.

Asked why the hijackers attacked the United States on Sept. 11, she said: “There is a very small percentage of Islamic believers who are extreme and they are violent and they do not believe in American ideals.”

Then came perhaps her low point, when she was asked about the Bush doctrine, which we referred to above.

“In what respect, Charlie?” she asked, appearing at a loss. “His world view?”

Mr. Gibson gave her a prompt, saying the president had enunciated this philosophy in September 2002. Ms. Palin’s response suggested that she was prepared for a question about Mr. Bush and decided to work her answer — one that put Mr. Bush at arm’s length — in here.

“What President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell-bent on destroying our nation,” she said. “There have been blunders along the way, though, there have been mistakes made,” she said, adding, “that’s the beauty of American elections,” which is the “opportunity to do things better.”

Mr. Gibson assumed a professorial attitude here, as if lecturing her: “The Bush doctrine is anticipatory self-defense,” he explained with slight impatience. “We have the right to a pre-emptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us. Do you agree with that?”

Answer: “If there is legitimate and enough intelligence that tells us that a strike is imminent against America…” she began. Mr. Gibson asked several times if the United States had the right to make cross-border attacks into Afghanistan through Pakistan, with or without Pakistan’s O.K..

Ms. Palin answered: “In order to stop Islamic extremists, those terrorists who would seek to destroy America and our allies, we must do whatever it takes, and we must not blink, Charlie, in making those tough decisions of where we go and who we target.”

Mr. Gibson said he “got lost in a blizzard of words” and asked the question again.

“I believe that America has to exercise all options in order to stop the terrorists who are hell-bent on destroying America and our allies,” Ms. Palin said. “We have got to have all options out there on the table.”

One last thing. When talking about Ukraine and Georgia joining NATO, she might have mentioned that not only Mr. McCain supported such a move, but Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden did too.



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