Palin Speculates About Obama and Clinton

Saturday, September 13, 2008

WASILLA, Alaska -- Gov. Sarah Palin said Friday that she thinks Sen. Barack Obama probably regrets not picking Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as his running mate.

"I think he's regretting not picking her now, I do," Palin told ABC News anchor Charles Gibson in the third of a series of interviews he conducted with her this week. "What, what determination and grit and even grace through some tough shots that were fired her way -- she handled those well."

Palin began her efforts as Sen. John McCain's running mate more than two weeks ago by praising Clinton but quickly dropped the line from her stump speech after it received boos from Republican audiences. Before joining the ticket, Palin had been critical of Clinton for complaining -- "whining," in Palin's words -- about sexism during the primaries. "When I hear a statement like that coming from a woman candidate with any kind of perceived whine about that excess criticism, or maybe a sharper microscope put on her, I think, 'Man, that doesn't do us any good, women in politics, or women in general, trying to progress in this country,' " she said earlier this year.

The McCain campaign is nonetheless trying to use Palin's selection to lure women voters, especially independents and Democrats who backed Clinton in the Democratic primaries.

Clinton has said little publicly about Palin. Although the senator from New York is stepping up her campaigning for Obama -- she has stops in Ohio on his behalf scheduled for this Sunday -- Clinton would like to avoid directly engaging the Republican vice presidential nominee, her advisers have said.

But at least one Obama ally took Palin to task for her comments.

"Sarah Palin should spare us the phony sentiment and respect," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said. "John McCain and Sarah Palin represent no meaningful change, just the same failed policies and same divisive, demeaning politics that has devastated the middle class."

In the same ABC interview, Palin also denied seeking earmarks for Alaska, both as mayor and as governor. She appeared defensive when asked about specific earmarks that were obtained on her watch, such as $3.2 million for researching the genetics of harbor seals -- the kind of spending on pet projects that McCain has promised to eliminate. "Those requests, through our research divisions and fish and game and our wildlife departments and our universities, those research requests did come through that system, but wanting it to be in the light of day, not behind closed doors, with lobbyists making deals with Congress to stick things in there under the public radar," Palin said. "That's the abuse that we're going to stop."

-- Anne E. Kornblut

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