Palin Pushes McCain as Market Reformer

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 25, 2008

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, in her third interview since joining the Republican presidential ticket, licked her finger and stuck it in the air, saying that Sen. Barack Obama might wait and "see what way the political wind's blowing" on the Wall Street rescue package.

The Republican vice presidential nominee told "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric yesterday that Sen. John McCain would take the lead in reforming Wall Street -- or "we're going to find ourselves in another Great Depression." But Palin seemed stumped when pressed to cite examples of McCain trying to reform the banking industry, beyond urging greater restrictions on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. "I'll try to find some and I'll bring them to you," Palin said.

The interview came amid increasingly vocal complaints from journalists that the campaign is walling off its vice presidential nominee. Palin has been interviewed by Charles Gibson of ABC News and Sean Hannity of Fox News, but she has held no news conferences and has responded to exactly one question from the reporters who follow her around the country.

Since Palin's selection was announced Aug. 29, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic vice presidential nominee, has held four news conferences and granted 89 interviews, sitting for Couric, "Meet the Press" and The Washington Post, among others.

CNN anchor Campbell Brown called the situation "unprecedented," saying in an interview that "as a journalist, my job is to get the truth, understand who this woman is, what she's about, whether she's qualified to be vice president. . . . If she were a man, would we be putting up with this? Would the campaign be treating her like this? Would she be coddled this way, cloistered this way? I don't think so."

McCain spokesman Michael Goldfarb said Palin will do more interviews and hold at least one news conference before Election Day.

"I know the media is throwing a temper tantrum about this," Goldfarb said. But, he said, "she was so beat up the first week when she came on and this campaign has had fraught relations with the media ever since. There's just not a tremendous amount of concern. The campaign is resolved not to allow the media to dictate her schedule. . . . This is mainly an inside-the-Beltway issue."

Things became heated on Tuesday as Palin was about to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the United Nations. Television executives balked when the campaign insisted that cameras could briefly record the start of the meeting but that journalists -- who might shout questions -- would be barred. This, said in a report, amounted to "more restrictive rules on access than even President Bush uses in the White House."

Campaign officials relented when CNN, which was supplying footage to the networks, said it would withdraw its crew. A CNN producer was allowed to remain for 29 seconds of small talk between Palin and Karzai.

Yesterday, after McCain and Palin met with the leaders of Georgia and Ukraine, McCain looked around him and appeared to be inviting questions. An Associated Press reporter asked Palin, "Governor, what have you learned from your meetings?" A McCain press aide intervened and moved the reporters out of the room.

Jim Geraghty, a columnist for National Review Online, said Palin should make herself available to reporters. "The first time Sarah Palin does an all-out press conference, with the barking dogs of the press yelling their questions at the same time, I think she'll do fine," he said. "I don't understand why they're not giving the media more access to her."

Howard Kurtz hosts CNN's weekly media program, "Reliable Sources."

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