Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sarah Palin’s foreign policy expertise: Is she ready for that 3:00 am call? Is Obama?

Jeff Berkowitz: Mrs. McCain

Cindy McCain: Hi, how are you?

Jeff Berkowitz: Is Sarah Palin ready to be President?

Cindy McCain: Absolutely.
Jeff Berkowitz: Is Sarah Pelin ready to be President?

Andrea Mitchell: NBC Correspondent and married to former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan: I have no idea.

Jeff Berkowitz: You’ve seen her for a week. What do you think?

Andrea Mitchell: It’s way too early. A day is a lifetime in politics. I’ve got to go.

Berkowitz: She has no foreign policy experience. You agree?

Mitchell: Sorry, I’ve got to do my job.
We spent last night at the Republican Party convention in St. Paul, Minnesota speaking to delegates and other key figures from Illinois, Alaska, Delaware and Virginia; and some media and political celebrities on the floor. Our focus was on the issue of whether Sarah Palin has sufficient background, knowledge and experience with foreign policy to be a good Vice-President of the United States. We discuss, you decide [more from last night to follow]. Take a listen, below:
Jeff Berkowitz: Sarah Palin, is she qualified to be President of the United States, if that should happen?

Michael Steele, former Lt. Gov., Maryland, and 2006 Republican candidate for U. S. Senate (MD): Absolutely. She is as qualified as the gentleman who is running for President, on the other side [Obama].

Jeff Berkowitz: Obama has been talking about foreign policy issues for at least six years [He discussed same on Berkowitz’ show, Public Affairs, starting in 2002]—

Michael Steele: Oh, he has?

Jeff Berkowitz: Has Sarah Palin been doing that?

Michael Steele: As a former executive of a state, as Lt. Gov., we don’t talk about it, we do it. Governors negotiate relationships between their state and countries: China, Africa, so you know, it’s a lived experience, it’s a real experience. We don’t talk about it, we do it.
Jeff Berkowitz: While the Governor has several years o f executive experience, which is important, apparently she has no foreign policy experience. There is no evidence she is conversant with foreign policy issues. Does that concern you?

Cong. Eric Cantor (R-Richmond, VA), Chief Deputy Minority Whip: You know I think that’s the case for any governor who is hoisted onto a national ticket. I think Bill Clinton certainly had that issue, as well, when—

Jeff Berkowitz: Coming out of Yale Law School, don’t you think people thought Bill Clinton—he gave the [DNC] Keynote speech in 1988—people weren’t really questioning whether he knew the foreign policy issues in 1992—maybe he didn’t have experience in making [foreign policy] decisions, but do you see the difference?

Cong. Cantor: But no, I think …a lot of people don’t know Gov. Sarah Palin because she is a relatively new Governor of Alaska, but she has more executive experience than either of the other candidates on the other side of the ticket. She has had to make decisions; she has presided over a State’s economy with the state having over a billion dollar budget; there’s obviously issues impacting that State: the energy issue, in particular, that’s 20% of that state’s economy. And frankly she was very skilled in making sure that she represented the people that elected her and in affecting the way that that state ran, taking on the corruption that existed in that state and made some decisions, along the way, each and every day. I think that’s what we are electing in our officeholders—somebody who has demonstrated judgment and [who] can make good decisions.
Jeff Berkowitz: Everybody is talking about Sarah Palin. What they are wondering is does she have the necessary national foreign policy experience to step in [to the Presidency], should something happen to John McCain? That’s the concern. How well do you know Sarah Palin and what do you think about that?

Julie Brady [Deputy Co-Chair of McCain for President in Illinois]: I know that she has lots of foreign policy experience based on the energy issue. It’s obviously a geo-political issue so she has to know what’s going on in the countries around her. She’s from Alaska; she’s probably had to deal with Russia. The oil issue impacts the entire world, so I think she probably does have a lot of foreign policy experience based on that one issue.
Jeff Berkowitz: Pat, everybody is asking about Sarah Palin. She has a lot of executive experience—not a lot , but two years as Governor of Alaska—some say that is more than McCain, Obama or Biden has—the problem is, is she ready to step right in, day one, should something happen to John McCain, because she doesn’t have any national foreign policy experience. What do you say to that?

Pat Brady [National Republican Committeeman from Illinois]: that our candidate [Palin], the No.2 on our ticket, has more experience than n the No. 1 [Obama] on their ticket. She has been an executive, she’s been commander of the National Guard in Alaska, She’s been to Kuwait, and she understands these issues. She’s certainly more qualified than the Democrat candidate.

Jeff Berkowitz: Does Sarah Palin know about Iran? Does she know about Iraq? Does she know about North Korea? Does that concern you? If elected, she ‘d be a heartbeat away. She could be President in February, 2009? Is she ready? Considering—what does she know about North Korea? Iraq? Iran?

State Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington); regional coordinator, Central Illinois, McCain for President: I don’t think anybody claims to be a walking encyclopedia on all those issues.

Jeff Berkowitz: John McCain knows that stuff, doesn’t he?

Rep. Brady: I think that she, as an individual—

Berkowitz: Joe Biden knows that stuff.

Rep. Dan Brady: But, we were talking about change. An agent for change happens to be Senator McCain. He is the one who has picked someone for Vice- President who is not a Washington insider. It’s a person who is very grounded with….the people she represents in Alaska. ..I think she is very capable of taking care of herself and doing a fine job when it comes to articulating the message, understand the issues and make sure it correlates with things Senator McCain is doing for the country.
Jeff Berkowitz: …the concern is , does [Sarah Pelin] have foreign policy experience, and if not, do you think she is ready, if something happened to McCain, say in February, 2009, to step in and make foreign policy decisions.

Kim Skipper [Member, Republican State Central Committee for Alaska and legislative aide to a State Rep.]: Absolutely, just like anybody else, if something happens to McCain, she will have the same Cabinet, she is not going to be in a vacuum on this; she will be stepping in with a cabinet that is already in place. And, in Alaska, you mentioned her on the Executive Committee, Alaska is a huge state and we have huge neighbors. We have Russia to our West and Canada to our East. So, a lot of the situations that we deal with right now are dealing on a broader scale, not just only from the United States, but on an international level.
Jeff Berkowitz: …what does Governor Palin know about Iraq, Iran and North Korea? If John McCain, God forbid, had a heart attack, was not available to be President the second day of his presidency, are you comfortable she could handle Iran, Iraq and North Korea?

Steve Colligan [Vice Chair, Alaska Republican Party; resides in Wasilla, AK, the same city for which Sarah Pelin was Mayor; knows Governor Palin well ]: She’s a leader, she is fearless. I believe she has proven she could hire the people with the correct knowledge—subject matter experts—she could do a great job...

Jeff Berkowitz: What do you know about her that convinces you she has the smarts to be President of the United States, if she has to be?

Steve Colligan: She is tough and the media has been asking—

Jeff Berkowitz: She is tough but what do you know about her smarts?

Steve Colligan: Well, she has taken on everybody-- and the media has been asking what do you know about Sarah that is not positive?
"Public Affairs," is a weekly political interview show airing in Chicago on CANTV, in the Chicago metro area and in Aurora on Comcast and also often on the Illinois Channel. The show is hosted by Jeff Berkowitz and you can reach him at You can watch the shows, including archived shows going back to 2005, here. You can read Berkowitz's daily reports from the presidential conventions for and at the Chicago Daily Observer [where you can read these reports first here]. *************************************************************
Recently posted shows on the Public Affairs YouTube page will soon include this coming week's Chicago Metro suburban edition of Public Affairs with State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) and they currently include last Monday night's City of Chicago edition of Public Affairs with State Rep. Ken Dunkin (D-Chicago), 8th CD Republican Nominee Steve Greenberg, our recent show with Senator Obama (D-IL), Gov. Sebelius (D-KS), DLC Chairman Harold Ford, Cong. Rahm Emanuel (D-Chicago), Attorney General Madigan, WTTW's Carol Marin, Real Clear Politics' Tom Bevan, Sun-Times Abdon Pallasch and much more, recent shows w/ 16th CD Democratic Nominee Robert Abboud, who is taking on 16 year, 16th CD Republican incumbent, Cong. Don Manzullo; Cook County Cmsr. and Republican State's Attorney Nominee Tony Peraica, Real Clear Politics' Tom Bevan , 13th CD Demoratic Nominee Scott Harper,State Rep. Candidate Tim Stratton (R-Glencoe, 58th Dist.), Sen. Kwame Raoul(D-Chicago), Senator John Cullerton (D-Chicago)- ; State Rep. candidate Joan Solms (R-Aurora), Comm. Forrest Claypool (D-Chicago) on the Obama Presidential campaign and shows with many other pols.