Palin blasts Congressional spending

September 12, 2008 9:44:10 PM PDT
Gov. Sarah Palin made sure Friday that the Republicans party's conservative base heard loud and clear that it when it comes to traditional platforms like cutting wasteful spending, she's on their side. In her third and final exclusive interview with ABC News' Charles Gibson, Palin discussed domestic issues including a matter close to running mate John McCain' heart cutting earmarks.

She characterized needless projects funded by American tax payers and supported members of Congress as "embarrassment."

View excerpts of Charlie Gibson's exclusive interview with Gov. Sarah Palin in Wasilla, Alaska, by clicking here.

"It has always been an embarrassment that abuse of the ear [the] earmark process has been accepted in Congress. And that's what John McCain has fought. And that's what I joined him in fighting. It's been an embarrassment, not just Alaska's projects. But McCain gives example after example after example. I mean, every state has their embarrassment," she said.

Palin said she opposed earmarks and defended her own record as the former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, which received around $27 million in federal funding and her decision to first back and then withdraw support of the so-called "Bridge to Nowhere."

The governor withdrew support of the bridge slated to be built with $398 million in federal funds to a small island with just 50 residents after the project became synonomous with wasteful government earmarks.

When pushed by Gibson for supporting the bridge and then opposing it, Palin said she never fought for the bridge but was instead in favor of money used to improved Alaska's infrastructure. The state still received the federal funds even though the bridge project was nixed.

"I was for infrastructure being built in the state. And it's not inappropriate for a mayor or for a governor to request and to work with their Congress and their congressmen, their congresswomen, to plug into the federal budget along with every other state a share of the federal budget for infrastructure," she said.

Palin told Gibson that she "drastically reduced our earmark request since I came into office," but when pushed on her states request for $3.2 billion for researching the genetics of harbor seals and the mating habits of crabs, the governor became defensive.

She said funding those projects were requested publicly and not hidden in legislation.

"Those requests, through our research divisions and fish and game and our wildlife departments and our universities, those research requests did come through that system, but wanting it to be in the light of day, not behind closed doors, with lobbyists making deals with Congress to stick things in there under the public radar.That's the abuse that we're going to stop. That's what John McCain has promised over and over for these years and that's what I'm joining him, also, saying, you're right, the abuse of earmarks, it's un-American, it's undemocratic, and it's not going to be accepted in a McCain-Palin administration. Earmark abuse will stop," she said.

Gov. Palin, just two years into her first term as governor, made a name for herself as a "reformer" and in her second interview with Gibson on Thursday trumpeted her record of taking on oil companies and corruption in Alaska.

In Thursday's first interview, Palin hewed closely to the McCain talking points, mirroring the presidential nominee's positions on foreign policy and national security.

In Thursday's second interview, when it came to the discussion of energy policy, turf the Alaska governor is far more comfortable discussing, many of the differences between she and McCain were exposed.

McCain has said he believes humans are responsible for climate change and that the government should not allow drilling in ANWR, positions opposite to those of his running mate.

"Do you still believe that global warming is not man made?" Gibson asked Palin.

"I believe that man's activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming, climate change. Here in Alaska, the only arctic state in our Union, of course, we see the effects of climate change more so than any other area with ice pack melting. 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 and we have to make sure that we're doing all we can to cut down on pollution."

In the past, including in an interview with Newsmax.com in August just ahead of her nomination, Palin said: "I'm not one though who would attribute [global warming] to being man-made."

In her interview with Gibson, Palin was much more measured in her response.

Sarah Palin Defends Global Warming Stance, Argues for Oil Drilling

McCain and Palin agree on offshore drilling but differ on exploration in ANWR, a federally protected wildlife reserve.

"I'm going to keep working on that one with him. ANWR, of course, is a 2,000 acre swath of land in the middle of about a 20 million acre swath of land. 2,000 acres that we're asking the feds to unlock so that there can be exploration and development& 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."

It might, however, not take so much work to convince McCain to change his mind. "I continue to examine it," the Arizona Senator told The Weekly Standard at the end of August about ANWR.

Gibson Presses Palin on Foreign Policy

The comfort she showed when talking about a proposed pipeline that would supply the lower 48 states with natural gas from Alaska, contrasted sharply with her generally rote talking points on national security during the day's first interview with Gibson.

Palin has no previous foreign policy experience and her comments hewed closely to the McCain camp's established foreign policy positions on former Soviet nations joining NATO, and the threats posed from Islamic terrorists and a nuclear Iran.

When asked if Georgia joined NATO, whether the United States should go to war if the country was again invaded by Russia, Palin responded: "Perhaps so. 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."

"And we've got to keep an eye on Russia. For Russia to have exerted such pressure in terms of invading a smaller democratic country, unprovoked, is unacceptable," she said.

Palin -- whose military experience is limited to her gubernatorial role as commander-in-chief of the Alaska National Guard, an organization with fewer members than there are citizens in the town of which she was mayor -- tried to tout her energy expertise in lieu of her lack of national security policy.

"Let me speak specifically about a credential that I do bring to this table, Charlie, and that's with the energy independence that I've been working on for these years as the governor of this state that produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy, that I worked on as chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, overseeing the oil and gas development in our state to produce more for the United States... but I want you to not lose sight of the fact that energy is a foundation of national security. It's that important. It's that significant," she said.

On Israel's right to defend itself against a nuclear-armed and bellicose Iranian regime, Palin agreed with McCain that the country had a right to take action.

"Well, first, we are friends with Israel and I don't think that we should second-guess the measures that Israel has to take to defend themselves and for their security."

Iran, she said, presented a threat not only to Israel but to "everyone in the world."

"We have got to make sure that these weapons of mass destruction, that nuclear weapons are not given to those hands of [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, not that he would use them, but that he would allow terrorists to be able to use them," she said.

Palin on the 'Bush Doctrine'

Like much of the reaction to Thursday night's exclusive interview of Palin by ABC News's Charles Gibson, opinions about how she responded to one question in particular about the "Bush Doctrine" fell along partisan lines.

When asked by Gibson if she agreed with the Bush doctrine -- the administration's policy of preemptively striking another country in the face of potential attack -- Palin seemed unfamiliar with the term.

Palin initially said she interpreted the "Bush doctrine" to mean the president's "world view."

When asked by Gibson, "Do we have a right to anticipatory self-defense? Do we have a right to make a preemptive strike again another country if we feel that country might strike us?" Palin said yes.

"Charlie, if there is legitimate and enough intelligence that tells us that a strike is imminent against American people, we have every right to defend our country. In fact, the president has the obligation, the duty to defend," the Alaska governor said.

ABC News.com readers commented through the night on how Palin handled the question and the pundits similarly weighed in this morning on Good Morning America.

"I know people will really try to go after that and say she didn't even know what that was," ABC News consultant and Republican strategist Torie Clarke told "Good Morning America."

"You can pick 500 people out of the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon, and say tell me what the Bush doctrine is, and they would go 'I don't know,'" Clarke said. "But I don't think that's going to have, I don't know, the substance or the bite, that some people think it will."

Throughout the two interviews Palin granted ABC News Thursday, the governor appear poised and on message. But the seeming slip-up over the Bush doctrine opened the door for Democrats to pounce.

"It's the premise of our foreign policy of the last seven years. Again, for somebody that got a passport last year, I'm just being honest," Democratic strategist James Carville told "GMA." "I'm not surprised she didn't know."

"She needs to get up to speed a little more," Carville added.


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