Sarah Palin Defends Experience, McCain Foreign Policy; Dems Pounce on 'Bush Doctrine'

Gov. Sarah Palin never claimed to be a foreign policy expert, but should the potential next vice president of the United States be expected to know about a fundamental principle that has guided the way America has conducted foreign affairs since before we went to war in Iraq?

Predictably, the Democrats say "yes" and the Republicans say "no."

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.

Sarah Palin, McCain's VP Pick, Defends Foreign Policy Credentials

Palin, who received her first passport last year and is just two years into her first term as governor of Alaska, appeared to have also tripped while discussing her foreign policy qualifications.

She conceded she's never met a head of state, but said,"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."

But the facts say otherwise.

If elected, Palin would be the first vice president in decades who has never met a foreign head of state.

Dick Cheney, a former secretary of defense and White House chief of staff, met plenty foreign leaders. George H.W. Bush was an ambassador to China, and long-serving senators Al Gore, Dan Quayle and Walter Mondale all saw their share of foreign dignitaries.

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