ABC News’ Imtiyaz Delawala Reports: During an unscheduled stop at a Philadelphia cheesesteak shop last night, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin endorsed cross-border raids by U.S. troops into Pakistan to prevent terrorists from crossing the border into Afghanistan.
Palin made a stop last night at Tony Luke’s, an outdoor cheesesteak joint in South Philly, where she grabbed dinner with her daughter Willow and chatted with customers.
According to the pool report of the stop, one customer there named Michael Rovito briefly pressed Palin on her position on Pakistan, and how she would handle attacks on American troops in Afghanistan by terrorists based in Pakistan’s Waziristan border region.
"It’s working with Zardari to make sure that we’re all working together to stop the guys from coming in over the border. And we’ll go from there," Palin said of working with new Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, who she met in New York last week.
When asked by Rovito whether the U.S. should conduct cross-border raids into Pakistan fom Afghanistan, Palin responded, "If that’s what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should."
Senators John McCain and Barack Obama got into a heated exchange on Pakistan at their first presidential debate on Friday, with McCain harshly criticizing Obama for promoting in a speech last year making military strikes on terrorist targets in Pakistan with or without the Pakistani government’s permission.
"He said that he would launch military strikes into Pakistan," McCain said of Obama. "Now, you don’t do that. You don’t say that out loud. If you have to do things, you have to do things, and you work with the Pakistani government."
"And I guarantee you I would not publicly state that I’m going to attack them," McCain added.
Obama responded that "nobody talked about attacking Pakistan," saying his speech last year on Pakistan endorsed the idea that "if the United States has al Qaeda, bin Laden, top-level lieutenants in our sights, and Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act, then we should take them out."
"This is not an easy situation. You’ve got cross-border attacks against U.S. troops," Obama added. "And we’ve got a choice. We could allow our troops to just be on the defensive and absorb those blows again and again and again, if Pakistan is unwilling to cooperate, or we have to start making some decisions."
Obama’s position on cross-border raids sounds similar to the one stated by Palin last night, although Palin did not explicitly say whether she would support raids without the Pakistani government’s permission.
When asked in her interview with ABC News’ Charles Gibson this month whether the U.S. has the right to go into Pakistan without the approval of the Pakistani government, Palin said that the U.S. has to "exercise all options."
Gibson pressed her on the point, asking, "Is that a yes, that you think we have the right to go across the border with or without the approval of the Pakistani government, to go after terrorists who are in the Waziristan area?"
"I believe that America has to exercise all options in order to stop the terrorists who are hell bent on destroying America and our allies," Palin responded. "We have got to have all options out there on the table. Military strike has got to be a last option. But where we are today, in a very dangerous and volatile world, all options have got to be on the table."
In addition to meeting and greeting customers and store employees, Palin was asked by a reporter while waiting in line to order if she had watched the first presidential debate on Friday.
"I did, I did. Oh, McCain did awesome," Palin responded. "He was great. He was absolutely on his game."
Palin said she was ready and looking forward to her own debate this Thursday with Sen. Joe Biden.
"I am. Look forward to it. Look forward to getting to speak to Americans through that debate, absolutely," Palin said.
According to the pool report, Palin and her daughter Willow ordered two cheesestakes (whiz and onions) but did not eat at the shop before heading back to their hotel for the night.