McCain Sticks by VP Pick; Calls Palin 'Spectacular,' Ready to Lead

In interview with Charles Gibson, McCain praises Alaska governor, slams Obama.

ByABC News
September 3, 2008, 10:21 AM

Sept. 3, 2008— -- As he prepares to accept the Republican Party's nomination for president, John McCain says that he is pleased with his embattled choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate, highlighting her experience as a governor and crusader for reform.

"We've got a spectacular running mate here that has really captured America," the Arizona senator told "World News" anchor Charles Gibson in an exclusive interview in St. Paul today. McCain said that his choice has "an incredible resume including a beautiful family."

"She is experienced, she's talented, she knows how to lead and she has been vetted by the people of the state of Alaska," McCain said.

"Americans are going to be very, very, very pleased," McCain said. "She's really going to have a remarkable impact on the American people. I'm very excited."

Watch the ABC News live special with Gibson, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos from the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis/St.Paul at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

McCain introduced his vice presidential pick Friday during a televised campaign event in Dayton, Ohio, bringing the Alaska governor into the national spotlight.

The choice has enlivened core conservative voters -- McCain raised more than $47 million in campaign donations in August, nearly $10 million of which came after he announced that Palin, an anti-abortion rights conservative, would be on the ticket.

But the surprise pick has also sparked questions about Palin's background and the McCain campaign's vetting process.

Earlier this week, Palin announced in a statement that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter, Bristol, is pregnant and intends to marry the father. Other revelations include the fact that Palin is in the midst of an ethics investigation in Alaska into whether she inappropriately fired a state employee for personal reasons.

McCain reportedly met with Palin once, for a three-hour discussion, before officially selecting her to be his running mate.

"The people of Alaska have vetted her," he said. "She has a proven record. She's had positions of responsibility and authority," McCain said in defense of his choice, citing Palin's 80 percent approval rating.

McCain also highlighted their common role as "mavericks" within the Republican Party and Palin's ability to bring reform to the GOP.

The Arizona senator said that American voters "want people who will come and stand up for change and do whatever is necessary. She took on her own party. You'd have to describe to me one occasion where Sen. [Barack] Obama took on anybody, any powerful interest in his own party."