WASHINGTON -- Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin declared herself ready to be president, if necessary, saying Thursday that she "didn't blink" when she was asked by John McCain to be his running mate.
"You have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we're on, reform of this country and victory in the war," she told Charles Gibson on ABC's World News in her first broadcast interview since being named to the GOP ticket. "So I didn't blink then, even when asked to run as his running mate."
In a talk devoted to foreign policy, Palin said a nuclear-armed Iran is a threat to the United States and the world. She said she would not "second guess" Israel if it decided to defend itself by striking Iran.
Palin said she wants to avoid both a real war and a new Cold War. She said the United States needs to keep an eye on the ambitions of Russia and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, particularly if it is "to control energy supplies" on their way west.
Palin said she supported NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine, and that the United States and allies would be obligated under NATO rules to defend them if they were attacked by Russia.
The Alaska governor, 44, also said she hopes the United States is following God's will in its wars against Iraq and terrorist groups. "I believe that there is a plan for this world and that plan for this world is for good," Palin said.
It was Palin's first news interview since she and McCain spoke with People magazine on Aug. 29, the day McCain announced her. She spoke in Alaska the day her son Track and his Army unit deployed for Iraq. She said he is "serving for the right reasons in serving something greater than self."
Palin endorsed the right of U.S. troops to chase terror suspects from Afghanistan into Pakistan, even without the approval of that government. Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama holds a similar view, which McCain once called "naive."
Early reactions were mixed.
"She's got a lot to learn," said Jerry McBeath, a professor of political science at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. "We don't have capacity to stage another war against Iran or Russia or even Mexico." He said Palin did project "a great deal of confidence," and that voters concerned over security issues are "looking for people confident in themselves."
Jennifer Palmieri, a senior vice president with the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, said Palin did not commit any "gaffes," but expressed an "absolutist" and "black-and-white" view of global affairs.
Palmieri said Palin did not appear to recognize the term the "Bush doctrine," which says the United States has the right to take pre-emptive action if it feels under threat.
Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, said people have different interpretations of the Bush doctrine. Wright, a conservative, praised Palin's grasp of foreign affairs, especially on energy. "She correctly stressed that energy is fundamental to national security."
Later Thursday on Nightline, ABC aired more of the interview, in which Palin appears to have changed her stance on global warming. "I believe that man's activities certainly can be contributing to the issue," she said.
In an interview for the September issue of the conservative magazine Newsmax, Palin said, "A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state. … I'm not one, though, who would attribute it to being man-made."
Palin also said she disagreed with McCain on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He opposes drilling there. "I'm going to keep working on that one with him," she said.
ABC planned additional coverage of Palin throughout today.
Palin criticized Russia's Aug. 8 invasion of Georgia, calling it "unacceptable" and referring to it as unprovoked.
"You believe unprovoked?" Gibson asked. "I do believe unprovoked," she said.
On Aug. 7, Georgian troops launched a surprise attack in South Ossetia, a breakaway Georgian province. Russia has said it went there to protect residents of Russian ancestry.
Palin also sought to explain a comment she once made in her church regarding the Iraq war, that "our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God."
She said she was trying to reference an Abraham Lincoln quote, and that she meant to say, "Let us not pray that God is on our side in a war or any other time. But let us pray that we are on God's side."
Contributing: Ken Dilanian in Anchorage