Sarah Palin Defends Abortion Stance, Explains 'Bridge to Nowhere' Support

Vice presidential candidate talks with Charles Gibson in exclusive interview.

ByABC News
September 12, 2008, 10:11 AM

Sept. 12, 2008— -- Gov. Sarah Palin made sure Friday that the Republican Party's conservative base heard loud and clear that when it comes to traditional platforms like cutting wasteful spending, and upholding the right to life, she is on their side.

In her third and final exclusive interview with ABC News' Charles Gibson, Palin discussed a range of domestic issues and defended herself against allegations that she flip-flopped on a controversial and costly infrastructure project and fired a state official who refused to sack her former brother-in-law.

Touting her experience as a reformer who shares running mate Sen. John McCain's, R-Ariz., passion for cutting taxes and slashing Congressional pork, Palin also drew contrasts between herself and the Arizona senator on issues like stem cell research and abortion.

Read the full excerpts from all three of Charlie Gibson's exclusive interviews with Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin by clicking here.

Palin took a harder line than McCain on those social issues, but called her sentiments "personal opinion[s]" that could potentially differ from official policy in a McCain White House.

McCain supports abortion in instances of rape or incest, but Palin, a mother of a 5-month-old infant with Down syndrome, said she would advocate abortion only if a mother's life was in danger.

"My personal opinion is that abortion [should be] allowed if the life of the mother is endangered. Please understand me on this. I do understand McCain's position on this. I do understand others who are very passionate about this issue who have a differing opinion," she said.

Palin also diverged with McCain on the use of embryonic stem cells to develop potentially life saving remedies for diseases, like Parkinson's, and said she, instead, supported the use of adult stem cells.

"My personal opinion is we should not create human life, create an embryo and then destroy it for research, if there are other options out there," she said.

If she diverged with McCain on social issues, she toed the campaign line on economic policies, like cutting taxes and opposing congressional bills stuffed with wasteful earmarks.

Palin reduced her economics policy to three key issues: reduce taxes, control spending and reform the oversight committees that review spending.

The governor characterized such needless projects funded by American taxpayers and supported by members of Congress as an "embarrassment."

"It has always been an embarrassment that abuse of [the] earmark process has been accepted in Congress. And that's what John McCain has fought. And that's what I joined him in fighting," she said.

Palin said she opposed earmarks and defended her own record as the former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, which received around $27 million in federal funding, and her decision to first back and then withdraw support of the so-called 'Bridge to Nowhere.'

The governor withdrew support of the bridge, slated to be built with $398 million in federal funds, to a small island with 50 residents after the project became synonymous with needless government spending.

When pushed by Gibson for supporting the bridge and then opposing it, Palin said she never fought for the bridge, but was, instead, in favor of money used to improve Alaska's infrastructure. The state still received the federal funds, even though the bridge project was nixed.