Sarah Palin's second big test happens Thursday night, just a few minutes from now, when the first part of the interview she did with ABC News' Charlie Gibson airs. Considering the lengths to which the McCain campaign has gone to keep her from facing the press at large so far, and the substantial resources devoted to preparing her, this should be interesting to watch.
Ever since the news came out that Gibson would be the first interviewer, he's been the subject of some harsh criticism from people who suspected he was chosen because he could be trusted to lob softballs. But I think people will be surprised, and find that he's a tougher interviewer than expected. Certainly the excerpts ABC has released of the interview don't show him lying down.
A few choice moments from those excerpts are below. Some things to pay attention to: obviously, her stance on NATO expansion and what that means regarding war in Russia, her attempt to completely distort the meaning of what she said about Iraq being "a task that is from God" and the fact that she doesn't appear to understand the definition of the word "hubris."
Sarah Palin on Experience:
GIBSON: Governor, let me start by asking you a question that I asked John McCain about you, and it is really the central question. Can you look the country in the eye and say "I have the experience and I have the ability to be not just vice president, but perhaps president of the United States of America?"
PALIN: I do, Charlie, and on January 20, when John McCain and I are sworn in, if we are so privileged to be elected to serve this country, will be ready. I'm ready.
GIBSON: And you didn't say to yourself, "Am I experienced enough? Am I ready? Do I know enough about international affairs? Do I -- will I feel comfortable enough on the national stage to do this?"
PALIN: I didn't hesitate, no.
GIBSON: (INAUDIBLE -- Didn't that take some hubris?)
PALIN: I -- I answered him yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we're on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can't blink.
So I didn't blink then even when asked to run as his running mate.
Sarah Palin on God:
GIBSON: You said recently, in your old church, "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God." Are we fighting a holy war?
PALIN: You know, I don't know if that was my exact quote.
GIBSON: Exact words.
PALIN: But the reference there is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln's words when he said -- first, he suggested never presume to know what God's will is, and I would never presume to know God's will or to speak God's words.
But what Abraham Lincoln had said, and that's a repeat in my comments, was let us not pray that God is on our side in a war or any other time, but let us pray that we are on God's side.
That's what that comment was all about, Charlie.
GIBSON: I take your point about Lincoln's words, but you went on and said, "There is a plan and it is God's plan."
PALIN: I believe that there is a plan for this world and that plan for this world is for good. I believe that there is great hope and great potential for every country to be able to live and be protected with inalienable rights that I believe are God-given, Charlie, and I believe that those are the rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
That, in my world view, is a grand -- the grand plan.
Sarah Palin on Russia:
GIBSON: Would you favor putting Georgia and Ukraine in NATO?
PALIN: Ukraine, definitely, yes. Yes, and Georgia.
GIBSON: And under the NATO treaty, wouldn't we then have to go to war if Russia went into Georgia?
PALIN: Perhaps so. I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you're going to be expected to be called upon and help...
GIBSON: And you think it would be worth it to the United States, Georgia is worth it to the United States to go to war if Russia were to invade.
PALIN: What I think is that smaller democratic countries that are invaded by a larger power is something for us to be vigilant against. We have got to be cognizant of what the consequences are if a larger power is able to take over smaller democratic countries.
And we have got to be vigilant. We have got to show the support, in this case, for Georgia. The support that we can show is economic sanctions perhaps against Russia, if this is what it leads to.