ABC News’ Imtiyaz Delawala Reports: Following her running mate’s lead, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin sought to turn the focus to national security on the campaign trail today, charging that Sen. Barack Obama is "incapable of meeting" the national security challenges facing the country.
"In five days, it’s all gonna come down to a choice between two men — Barack Obama and John McCain," Palin said at a rally in Erie, Pennsylvania today. "And you know a man can be admirable in many ways, and quite promising and still not be quite ready for the most important and demanding job in the world. Rousing speeches can fill a stadium, but they cannot keep our country safe."
Palin dismissed Obama’s 30-minute ad buy that aired on seven television networks last night as a "warm and fuzzy, scripted infomercial" that ignored Iraq and Afghanistan.
"He didn’t talk much about the stakes in the wars that America is fighting and he didn’t explain why he voted to cut off funding for our troops over there in the war zone when they need our support," Palin said. "Instead, he wrapped his closing message in a warm and fuzzy, scripted infomercial intended to soften the focus in these closing days. He’s hoping your mind won’t wander to the real challenges of national security, challenges that he is incapable of meeting."
Palin had introduced the new line of argument after participating in a "National Security Roundtable" in Erie, PA with a panel of McCain campaign foreign policy advisors, including former CIA Director James Woolsey, former 9/11 Commission member John Lehman, and former Secretary of Homeland Security and Erie, Pennsylvania native Tom Ridge.
After the roundtable, Palin argued that domestic and foreign policy cannot be separated, citing energy policy as an example of an issue that has an impact both at home and abroad. Palin had spoken extensively about the Republican ticket’s plans on energy security in a policy speech in Toledo, OH yesterday.
"Gone are the days when we had placed domestic and foreign concerns in two distinct categories and just choose a president according to the priorities of the moment," Palin said. "On November 4th we need to elect a president who can handle the difficulties in the economy and the dangers of the world all at the same time."
Palin said she understood that most Americans are focused on the current "economic hard times" instead of foreign policy.
"When your most valuable assets — from your home to your retirement plan — seem at risk, it may be hard to spend much time worrying about great troubles in far-off places," Palin said. "It may be hard to spare much thought even for the most urgent matters of national security."
But she argued that the "dangers of the world do not disappear" and that the next president will still face foreign policy threats after the economic crisis has passed.
"The terrorist threat will be with us for many years, and millions of innocent lives are hanging in the balance," Palin said. "And in this time for choosing, the question is which man will protect us from Osama bin Laden, from Al Qaeda, from the prospects of a nuclear-armed Iran, and other grave threats in the world, which one understands that threat? That man is Senator John McCain."
Palin charged that a Democratic Congress would not protect the country, slamming comments made recently by Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, in which he called for a 25 percent cut in the defense budget.
"Let’s not retreat from wars that are almost won," Palin said. "And let’s not gut the defense budget, in a time of multiple conflicts and obvious dangers. And let’s not entrust all the powers of the federal government to the one-party rule of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid."
Palin closed by arguing that only McCain knew the costs of war, and was ready to lead on the country’s security challenges as president.
"He is a man of unquestioned honor and personal and political courage, and of tested judgment – and the kind of judgment that avoids crisis instead of inviting it," Palin said. "In a time of great danger, we are fortunate to have a man of his caliber ready, deserving, to serve as commander in chief."