Sunday, September 21, 2008

McCain Puts The Kibosh On Palin's "Stump The Candidate" Audience Challenge



At a town hall meeting on September 17th in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Sarah Palin sought to reassure a questioner about her "perceived lack of foreign policy experience."

Seeking to substitute enthusiasm and perkiness for thought and experience, Palin stated, "But as for foreign policy, you know, I think I am prepared and I know that on January 20th, if we are so blessed to be sworn into office as your president and vice president, certainly we'll be ready, I'll be ready. I have that confidence, I have that readiness..."

Palin was so confident, in fact, that she challenged the audience to test her knowledge: "...if you want specifics with specific policies or countries, go ahead, and you can ask me and you can play stump the candidate if you want to."

A bold challenge indeed. The only problem was that the audience never had the chance to ask even one question. As Dana Bash of CNN put it in the video above, "What about 'stump the candidate'? We want to see that. That didn't happen. She stopped talking at that point and John McCain jumped in and started talking about some of the points in her resume..."

Smart move on McCain's part. He wasn't taking any chances on Palin's giving "stump the candidate" a whirl. 

Not that McCain–who referred to the non-existent Iraq/Pakistan border, confused Somalia for Sudan, referred to “President Putin of Germany,” twice mistook Sunnis for Shiites in Iraq and referred several times to Czechoslovakia, a nation that no longer exists–is a foreign policy whiz either.

Regardless, one understands McCain's concern. For all he knows, the nefarious Charles Gibson may have been in the audience. During her interview with Gibson, Palin was flummoxed over his question about the Bush doctrine. By now Palin's intro to international affairs tutors must have coached her on that fine point. But who knows, the crafty Gibson may have been ready to ambush her with a question about relations with, say, Venezuela.

The McCain campaign has made much of the fact that Alaska is near Russia, thus giving Palin foreign policy experience. She recently presented ABC News with a startling geopolitical insight: "They're our next-door neighbors, and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska" 

Venezuela, though, is nowhere near Alaska, which would make any inquiry about it another trick question for Palin. It may have been construed as more evidence that, as McCain campaign manager Rick Davis put it, reporters are not treating Palin with "respect and deference."

McCain also might have been worried that Chuck Hagel  was in the audience. The Republican Senator from Nebraska is fed up with claims for Palin's international expertise based on the Russian proximity argument and said that it was a "stretch" to say that she's qualified to lead the country if McCain could not.

"I think they ought to be just honest about it and stop the nonsense about, 'I look out my window and I see Russia and so therefore I know something about Russia,'" Hagel said. "That kind of thing is insulting to the American people."

Though it's not shown on this particular video, Palin's repeated assurances that she's "ready" and "confident" were good enough for the audience, which erupted into cheers. The vibes were good, so why take the chance on being stumped?

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