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Published: Sep 11, 2008
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Video Of Sarah Palin, Charlie Gibson Interview: Hard Line On Russian Aggression
by Staff

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin took a hard line on the crisis in Georgia on Thursday, and said the United States would be obliged to defend it from another Russian invasion if the former Soviet republic joins NATO.

Palin, the relatively unknown governor of Alaska who was chosen two weeks ago to be John McCain's running mate in the White House race, said she was up to the challenge of being the country's No. 2 official.

In her first news interview, Palin urged the admittance of Georgia and Ukraine to NATO. She was asked if the United States would be bound to go to war if Russia invaded Georgia again.

"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," she told interviewer Charles Gibson of ABC News.

"And we've got to keep an eye on Russia. For Russia to have exerted such pressure in terms of invading a smaller democratic country, unprovoked, is unacceptable," she said.

Russia's intervention came after Georgia began a military operation last month to reassert control of South Ossetia, a Russian-backed breakaway region.

Palin's comment was in line with the language of the NATO treaty which states that alliance members are obliged to defend any fellow member that is attacked.

At the last NATO summit in Bucharest in April, Croatia and Albania were invited to join the alliance but Georgia and Ukraine were not.


Palin, a conservative anti-abortion and pro-gun rights mother of five, has fired up Republican Party grassroots activists and ignited a surge of momentum for McCain in the race against Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Opinion polls showed McCain and Palin running even or slightly ahead of Obama and his running mate, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, after last week's Republican convention. Obama, an Illinois senator, held a slight lead in polls heading into the back-to-back party conventions.

McCain's camp had shielded Palin from news interviews until choosing Gibson and ABC to do the first one. Critics have questioned her readiness to assume the president's job if something happens to McCain, a 72-year-old senator from Arizona.

But she said she told McCain she was ready.

"I answered '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," she said.

Palin attended a deployment ceremony in Alaska on Thursday for her son Track, an Army infantryman being sent to Iraq. She defended a past statement in which she characterized the war there as a "task from God."

In the interview, Palin said she was referencing a quote by former President Abraham Lincoln.

"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," she said.

(Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Alan Elsner)

Video is here. Text excerpts here.


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