Palin says Obama regrets bypassing Clinton
September 13, 2008
WASHINGTON – Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin says she thinks Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama regrets not making Hillary Rodham Clinton his running mate.
Palin praised Clinton’s “determination, and grit and even grace” during the Democratic primaries, sounding an altogether different note than when she suggested earlier this year that the New York senator was whining about negative media coverage and campaigning in a way that was not advancing the cause of women in politics.
“I think he’s regretting not picking her now,” Palin told ABC News on Friday, referring to Obama.
Palin’s highly anticipated first televised interview since joining the race was airing this week as Americans seek to learn more about her since Republican presidential candidate John McCain chose her two weeks ago. She has been Alaska’s governor for less than two years and before that was a small-town mayor.
Although she was not widely known in the U.S. before getting the nod, Palin has energized the Republican party’s conservative base, pulling many of them closer to a presidential candidate they had initially eyed with wariness.
Obama has called Palin a “phenomenon” and acknowledged she has given the Republican ticket a boost. But his aides say McCain is vulnerable to new criticisms because he has stretched the truth in recent comments and ads, and because Palin was shaky on foreign policy in the ABC News interview.
Belittling McCain as a relic of the disco age, Obama pushed his campaign to a new level of counter-punching “on the issues that matter” and directed his running mate to be tougher on their Republican opponents.
The changes come as national polls find McCain and Palin pulling ahead of Obama and his running mate Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, prompting some jittery Democrats to implore them to fight back harder, and Obama’s camp to pledge “speed and ferocity” in that effort.
“You know, I’m not going to be making up lies about John McCain,” Obama told undecided voters in Dover, New Hampshire on Friday. But he dipped into history, citing the oft-repeated phrase: “If you don’t stop lying about me, I’m going to have to start telling the truth about you.”
“That’s what we’re going to do,” Obama said.
But Obama had to tone down his counterattack Saturday because of the devastation caused by Hurricane Ike in Texas.
Obama canceled plans to crack jokes on the season premiere of the NBC comedy show “Saturday Night Live. The campaign also decided to scale back an outdoor rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, announcing that Biden would not join Obama as originally scheduled. Obama told Houston Mayor Bill White on Friday that he would do whatever he can do to help, including using his campaign Web site to raise funds for relief efforts.
After returning to Alaska for the TV interview, Palin was scheduled to make her first solo campaign appearance without McCain on Saturday in Carson City, Nevada, a Western battleground state where polls show a tight race.
Palin’s entry in the race has also drawn support from many white women, and the McCain campaign hopes in particular that she can pull Clinton’s supporters away from Obama. It was in that spirit that she heaped praise on Obama’s defeated rival, even though Democrats emphasize that she disagrees with Clinton on most major women’s issues including abortion rights.
“What determination, and grit, and even grace through some tough shots that were fired her way — she handled those well,” Palin said.
Those comments contrasted with Palin’s words last March when she was asked about coverage of Clinton at a Newsweek forum, and said: “Fair or unfair, I think she does herself a disservice to even mention it, really. I mean, you gotta plow through that. You have to know what you’re getting into … when I hear a statement like that coming from a woman candidate with any kind of perceived whine about that excess criticism, or you know maybe a sharper microscope put on her, I think, ‘That doesn’t do us any good — women in politics.”
Her comment brought a sharp rejoinder from Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, on behalf of the Obama campaign: “Sarah Palin should spare us the phony sentiment and respect. Governor Palin accused Senator Clinton of whining.”
Clinton bowed out of the contest in June after a close race with Obama for the Democratic nomination. Obama chose the veteran senator Biden as his running mate, and has been working to win over Clinton’s supporters, many of them women. Clinton has urged her backers to support Obama and Biden.
The Palin interview also touched on two claims that have been a staple of her reputation since joining the ticket: that she was opposed to federal earmarks, even though her request for such special spending projects for 2009 was the highest per capita figure in the nation; and that she opposed the $398 million Bridge to Nowhere linking Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport.
Palin actually turned against the bridge project only after it became a national symbol of wasteful spending and Congress had pulled money for it.
Palin told ABC’s Charles Gibson that since she took office, the state had “drastically” reduced its efforts to secure earmarks and would continue to do so while she was governor.
“What I’ve been telling Alaskans for these years that I’ve been in office, is, no more,” Palin said.
On the Bridge to Nowhere, Palin said she had supported a link from the mainland to the airport but not necessarily the costly bridge project.
“We killed the Bridge to Nowhere,” Palin said flatly, despite evidence she had supported the project in its early stages.
Palin’s comments came after McCain sat for a feisty grilling Friday on morning TV talk show “The View,” where he claimed erroneously that his running mate had not sought money for such pet projects.
“Not as governor she didn’t,” McCain said, ignoring the record.
The panel of female hosts also pressed McCain on Palin’s religious views, his position on abortion rights and whether he had traded in his maverick ways to placate conservatives.
A new survey released Friday has McCain barely ahead of Obama thanks to strong support from suburban and working-class whites and a huge edge in how people rate each candidate’s experience. The AP-GfK poll has McCain leading 48 to 44 percent, and has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points among likely voters.
Obama has called Palin a “phenomenon” and acknowledged she has given her ticket a boost. But his aides say McCain is vulnerable to new criticisms because he has stretched the truth in recent comments and ads, and because Palin was shaky on foreign policy in a previously released part of the ABC News interview.
“You know, I’m not going to be making up lies about John McCain,” Obama told undecided voters in Dover.
Obama’s newest TV ad makes a none-too-subtle dig at McCain’s age. It shows McCain at a hearing in the early 1980s, wearing giant glasses and an out-of-style suit. Other images include a disco ball, clunky phone, outdated computer and Rubik’s Cube. “Things have changed in the last 26 years,” the announcer says, “but McCain hasn’t.”
The ads follow several from the McCain campaign, one which said Obama favored comprehensive sex education for kindergarten students and another that suggested Obama had called Palin a pig. Both are factually inaccurate. McCain stood by them during his appearance on “The View.”
Meanwhile, Alaska state lawmakers looking into allegations that Palin fired Walt Monegan, the state’s director of public safety, because he refused to dismiss a state trooper who had a messy divorce from the governor’s sister, voted to subpoena Palin’s husband.
The Senate committee acted at the request of investigator Stephen Branchflower, who is gathering evidence on whether Palin abused her power in the firing. Palin says Monegan was let go because of a budget dispute.
Branchflower said Todd Palin is “such a central figure. … I think one (a subpoena) should be issued for him.” – AP