Palin declares "I'm ready" in first media interview (Roundup)
By Chris Cermak Sep 12, 2008, 0:44 GMT
Washington - Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said she was confident that she could take over the presidency and fielded a broad range of foreign policy questions Thursday in her first interview since becoming running mate of Republican nominee John McCain.
Palin, governor since 2006, was little-known nationally before being named two weeks ago as McCain's vice presidential candidate. She has faced questions from Democrats about whether she has the experience - especially in foreign policy - to be vice president to the 72-year-old McCain.
In the interview with US television network ABC, Palin said that she 'didn't hesitate' when asked by McCain to be his running mate.
'I answered him yes, because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink,' she said.
Asked about her foreign affairs background, Palin pointed to her work on promoting US energy independence in Alaska, the second- largest largest oil-producing state in the country.
Palin said that she had not traveled beyond North America until a trip in July 2007 to visit Alaska National Guard troops in Kuwait and Germany, but insisted her level of foreign experience matched that of many vice presidential candidates from past races. Alaska is the only US state in proximity to two other countries: Canada and Russia.
McCain's pick of Palin, known as a reformer who took on her own party establishment in Alaska, has led the Republican ticket to shift its message in the last week to a theme of change from politics-as- usual in Washington. That has long been the core of Democratic rival Barack Obama's campaign.
Palin said that US voters were not looking at 'somebody's big fat resume' inside Washington, but instead at what candidates could do to change the direction of the country.
The interview covered a wide range of foreign policy and national security topics, including the nuclear threat from Iran, al-Qaeda's presence in Pakistan and President George W Bush's doctrine of preemptive war, which was used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Palin said that the US would have to 'exercise all options' to prevent any 'imminent' attack on the country, but said that military force should never be the first option.
She warned against another 'cold war' with Russia but suggested that economic sanctions might be needed in response to Moscow's invasion last month of Georgia - an action she called 'unacceptable and 'unprovoked.'
Palin said she supported NATO membership for Russia's neighbours, Ukraine and Georgia, which currently remains occupied in parts by Russian troops.
Asked if future NATO membership meant that the US would go to war with Russia over Georgia, she replied: 'Perhaps so.'
'That is the agreement when you are a NATO ally. ... If another country is attacked, you're going to be expected to be called upon and help,' she said.
Palin spoke of her teenage son, Trig, who is in the military and headed to Iraq on Thursday, the seventh anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The interview - the first of three by ABC - marked the first time Palin has taken questions from the national media or public since being named the vice presidential nominee on August 29.
To date, all of Palin's campaign events have been held jointly with McCain, while she has only held background discussions with reporters aboard the campaign plane.
Palin returned Wednesday night to Alaska and is expected to hold her first solo rallies next week around the country.