Thursday, September 25, 2008
Palin clarifies her Russian foreign policy experience
by Larry Geller
This is not disappeared news, but maybe McCain wishes it would be…
Update: I found this New York Times article with a transcript of the interview (and more, click and read).
On the “CBS Evening News” on Thursday, Katie Couric asked Ms. Palin, Senator John McCain’s running mate, what she meant when she cited Alaska’s proximity to Russia as foreign affairs experience. Ms. Palin could have anticipated the question — the topic of their interview, pegged to her visit to the United Nations, was foreign affairs. Yet Ms. Palin’s answer was surprisingly wobbly: her words tumbled out fast and choppily, like an outboard motor loosened from the stern.
“That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land — boundary that we have with — Canada,” she replied. She mentioned the jokes made at her expense and seemed for a moment at a loss for the word “caricature.” “It — it’s funny that a comment like that was — kind of made to — cari — I don’t know, you know? Reporters —”
Ms. Couric stepped in. “Mocked?” Ms. Palin looked relieved and even grateful for the help. “Yeah, mocked, I guess that’s the word, yeah.”
Ms. Couric pressed her again to explain the geographic point. “Well, it certainly does,” Ms. Palin said, “because our, our next-door neighbors are foreign countries, there in the state that I am the executive of.”
Ms. Couric asked the governor if she had ever been involved in negotiations, for example, with her Russian neighbors.
“We have trade missions back and forth,” Ms. Palin said. “We — we do — it’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where — where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border.”
Ms. Palin, looking at Ms. Couric intently, kept on going. “It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to — to our state.”
That exchange was so startling it ricocheted across the Internet several hours before it appeared on CBS and was picked up by rival networks.
While it is quite likely, and perhaps understandable, that Ms. Palin felt nervous and spooked by all the media attention, it wasn’t a reassuring performance. Ms. Palin looked more steady and confident when she took a few questions from reporters after a visit to ground zero in Lower Manhattan, her first, gingerly encounter with campaign reporters since her nomination.
The CBS interview, shown partly on Wednesday and partly on Thursday, was only a first taste — Ms. Couric is scheduled to go out on the campaign trail with the Palin team early next week. But it may be hard for Mr. McCain’s running mate to recoup. It wasn’t her first interview on national television, but in some ways it was the worst.