Republican presidential candidatehas defended his running mate's qualifications, citing her command of the Alaska National Guard and Alaska's proximity to Russia.
In the interview broadcast Thursday, Palin sought to defend her qualifications to assume one of the most powerful jobs in the world. But she struggled with foreign policy, unable to describe President Bush's doctrine of pre-emptive strikes against threatening nations and acknowledging she's never met a foreign head of state.
Pressed about what insights into recent Russian actions she gained by living in Alaska, Palin told Charles Gibson of ABC News, "They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska."
Palin, 44, has been Alaska's governor for less than two years and before that was a small-town mayor. She was McCain's surprise selection for the No. 2 slot on the ticket, raising questions about her readiness to serve in the White House, particularly during wartime.
Asked whether those were sufficient credentials, Palin said: "It is about reform of government and it's about putting government back on the side of the people, and that has much to do with foreign policy and national security issues." She said she brings expertise in making the country energy independent as a former chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
Palin said other than a trip to visit soldiers in Kuwait and Germany last year, her only other foreign travel was to Mexico and Canada. She also said she had never met a head of state and added: "If you go back in history and if you ask that question of many vice presidents, they may have the same answer that I just gave you."
Foreign policy questions dominated the first of three interviews Palin was giving Gibson over two days.
In the interview Thursday, Palin:
Asked whether she agreed with that, Palin said: "In what respect, Charlie?" Gibson pressed her for an interpretation of it. She said: "His world view." That prompted Gibson to say "No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war" and describe it to her.
"I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation," Palin said, though added "there have been mistakes made."
Later, in the second interview, Palin said she broke from McCain on climate change and oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. McCain has said humans have caused climate change and the federal government shouldn't permit drilling in the federally protected wildlife reserve.
Palin, however, said: "I believe that man's activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming, climate change. ... Regardless though of the reason for climate change, whether it's entirely, wholly caused by man's activities or is part of the cyclical nature of our planet - the warming and the cooling trends - regardless of that, John McCain and I agree that we gotta do something about it."
On ANWR, she said: "We'll agree to disagree but I'm gonna keep pushing that and I think eventually we're all gonna come together on that one."
On CBS News' The Early Show on Friday, Democratic N.M. Gov. Bill Richardson reacted to the interview.
"She is smart, she's intelligent and she's a governor. I'm a governor. I think you need executive experience, but I think in that interview she failed the national security threshold test," Richardson said. "She didn't seem to know what the Bush doctrine is, which is the foundation of our foreign policy for the last eight years. She seemed very casual about talking about war with Russia."
Also on The Early Show, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican, disagreed with Richardson.
"First of all, there is no test. And he is making that a test. And she gave an acceptable definition of the Bush doctrine. The Bush doctrine can be preemptive war," Giuliani said. "She explained it's his world view and his desire to deal with Islamic terrorism. I think she said on offense. That would be at least an acceptable definition. Bush doctrine which first is not a doctrine anyway."