By Alec MacGillis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin stood by her opposition to abortion even in cases of rape or incest and her skepticism that global warming is caused by human activity, but she stepped back from her past support for teaching creationism in the schools in last night's installment of her interviews with CBS's Katie Couric.
At several points in the interview, the Republican vice presidential nominee answered questions about her stances on social issues by offering her personal views, declining to describe how she would act as a matter of public policy.
Asked by Couric whether her opposition to abortion rights would extend even to a 15-year-old who had been raped by her father, Palin said she would "counsel that person to choose life despite horrific, horrific circumstances that this person would find themselves in." On this point, Palin differs with Sen. John McCain, the GOP presidential nominee.
Asked about the morning-after pill, Palin appeared to argue that it is wrong because it takes effect after conception, while not stating that it should be banned as a matter of policy. "Well, I am all for contraception. And I am all for preventative measures that are legal and safe, and should be taken. But Katie, again, I am one to believe that life starts at the moment of conception," Palin said. She added that that "isn't a McCain-Palin policy."
And asked about reports that one of the churches she attends has encouraged gays to become straight, Palin referred again to her own life. "I am not going to judge Americans and the decisions that they make in their adult personal relationships. I have one of my absolute best friends for the last 30 years happens to be gay, and I love her dearly. And she is not my 'gay friend,' she is one of my best friends, who happens to have made a choice that isn't a choice that I have made."
Palin reiterated, with an unintentional word reversal, her position that global warming is not necessarily being caused by carbon dioxide emissions, as most scientists believe. "I'm not going to solely blame all of man's activities on changes in climate. Because the world's weather patterns are cyclical. And over history we have seen change there. But kind of doesn't matter at this point, as we debate what caused it. The point is, it's real, we need to do something about it."
Palin proposed teaching creationism alongside evolution during her campaign for governor but has not pressed the issue while in office, a position she seemed to adhere to in the interview. Evolution "should be taught in our schools. And I won't deny that I see the hand of God in this beautiful creation that is Earth," she said. "But that is not part of the state policy or a local curriculum in a school district. Science should be taught in science class."
Asked what newspapers and magazines she reads, Palin said, "I've read most of them." Pressed by Couric for examples, Palin declined. "Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years," she said. Again asked to name a few, Palin said, "I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too. Alaska isn't a foreign country, where it's kind of suggested, 'Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C., may be thinking when you live up there in Alaska?' Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America."