Sunday, September 28, 2008
McCain Says Palin's Pakistan Statement Not Policy
Only a day after the McCain-Obama debate, Senator McCain's running mate Governor Sarah Palin seemed to partially contradict McCain on Pakistan in an encounter with a student in Pennsylvania. While she did say she believes in "working with [President] Zardari to make sure that we're all working together to stop the guys from coming in over the border." Upon further questioning, she also went on to say that if it is necessary to strike across the border to "stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should,"
She was answering an impromptu question posed by Temple University graduate student Michael Rovito, who asked her about Pakistan.
"How about the Pakistan situation?," asked Rovito, who said he was not a Palin supporter. "What's your thoughts about that?"
"In Pakistan?," she asked.
"What's going on over there, like Waziristan?"
"It's working with Zardari to make sure that we're all working together to stop the guys from coming in over the border," she told him. "And we'll go from there."
Rovito wasn't finished. "Waziristan is blowing up!," he said.
"Yeah it is," Palin said, "and the economy there is blowing up too."
"So we do cross border, like from Afghanistan to Pakistan you think?," Rovito asked.
"If that's what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should," Palin replied.
Later, McCain made it clear that Palin did not represent his policy position on Pakistan.
"She was in a conversation with some young man," McCain said during an interview today on ABC's "This Week." "She understands and has stated repeatedly that we're not going to do anything except in America's national security interest and we are not going to, quote, announce it ahead of time."
McCain said Palin's exchange was not an official policy statement.
"I don't think most Americans think that that's a definitive policy statement made by Governor Palin," McCain said.
It's clear from this incident that Sarah Palin and John McCain have not quite gelled as a team yet. But if you look at some of Joe Biden's statements during the Democratic primary campaign, you would also think that he does not agree with Obama on Pakistan policy. Given the extreme difficulty of the issues in Pakistan, it is understandable that their thinking is still evolving. However, in such situations, the mindset of the person on top of the presidential ticket is what really counts. The vice president has some influence on policy but the ultimate power of the final decision rests with the person elected president.