(COLORADO SPRINGS) It was less than two weeks ago when Sarah Palin astonished her traveling press corps by lifting the curtain (literally) and journeying to the back of her campaign plane to answer reporters' questions for the first time after 40 days on the campaign trail. But the candidate who has been criticized for having a bunker mentality when it came to the national media can now lay legitimate claim to being more accessible than either Joe Biden or Barack Obama.
In the past two days alone, Palin has answered questions from her national press corps on three separate occasions. On Saturday, she held another plane availability, and on Sunday, she offered an impromptu press conference on the tarmac upon landing in Colorado Springs. A few minutes later, she answered even more questions from reporters during an off-the-record stop at a local ice cream shop.
By contrast, Biden hasn't held a press conference in more than a month, and Obama hasn't taken questions from his full traveling press corps since the end of September. John McCain—who spent most of the primary season holding what seemed like one, never-ending media availability—hasn't done one since Sept. 23.
Though she often turns the "mainstream media" into a punching bag on the stump, Palin clearly enjoys interacting with reporters. She seems to relish the opportunity to demonstrate that her breadth of knowledge far exceeds what she offered to CBS News' Katie Couric in a series of interviews that were marked by vague, often convoluted answers to straightforward questions.
After her plane in Colorado Springs, Palin answered no less than 14 questions from the media. It took traveling press secretary Tracey Schmitt three attempts finally to get the governor to move along.
After reaffirming her belief that some parts of Obama's tax plan carry "socialist principles," Palin was asked whether she thought the government's move to pump money into U.S. banks was also socialist. It isn't difficult to imagine the Sarah Palin of a month ago getting tripped up by this question, but her answer this time was clear and concise.
"No, I do not," she said. "And I believe that there are those measures that had to be taken by Congress to shore up not only the housing market but the credit markets also to make sure that that's not frozen, so that our small businesses have opportunities to borrow."
When she brought three of her young children to a Coldstone Creamery a few minutes later, Palin took even more questions from reporters, confidently approaching the cameras, rather than trying to avoid them.
Asked for her reaction to Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann's recent suggestion that the media should investigate members of Congress who may hold "un-American" views, Palin didn't hesitate.
"Well, that's quite subjective," she said. "I would think that anyone running and wanting to serve in Congress is quite pro-America. You know, that is the mission, to better this country. So I would question what the intent of that would be."
Transitioning to the rising violence in Afghanistan, Palin meandered through her answer a bit more but succeeded in getting several points across.
"And we do need more troops in Afghanistan and we need that same surge strategy that's worked in Iraq and we need to make sure that we have that counter-insurgency strategy, too, in place," she said. "We need to grow our military. We need to incentivize our young Americans to realize what it is in terms of benefits and service our military can offer. We need to grow our military and get more troops in there. Work closer with the leaders in Afghanistan and make sure that with our NATO allies also that we are all working together there to fight that War on Terror there. Also, we can't afford though to lose in Iraq and think we are going to be any better in Afghanistan. That's why we are still opposed to an early or premature withdrawal from Iraq. We've got to win both the wars on both those fronts Afghanistan and Iraq."