WASHINGTON (AFP) — Republican running mate Sarah Palin, after again laying claim to foreign policy expertise because Alaska is near Russia, suffered a media roasting Friday with one conservative calling on her to quit.
Pro-Republican columnist Kathleen Parker, writing in the National Review, said the Alaska governor was now such an embarrassment to the party that she should step down as John McCain's vice presidential nominee.
"Palin's recent interviews with Charles Gibson (ABC News), Sean Hannity (Fox News) and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League," Parker said.
In her third session with a television interviewer, this time with CBS News anchor Couric, Palin struggled to offer examples of McCain's claim to regulatory zeal at a time when Wall Street is reeling from financial crisis.
In the interview, which aired in two parts on Wednesday and Thursday nights, Palin also said that US forces had already secured "victory" in Iraq, a bolder assertion than McCain himself has offered.
Pressed on why Alaska's geographic location enhanced her world knowledge, Palin said: "Well, it certainly does, because our, our next-door neighbors are foreign countries, there in the state that I am the executive of."
She said that when Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin "rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska."
"It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right next to, they are right next to our state," Palin added.
The socially conservative governor, whose polling boost to McCain appears to be flagging, also said the US economy could be staring at another "Great Depression" -- which McCain backed away from in his own interview with Couric.
Asked to give examples of legislative action taken by McCain that could have headed off the current financial crisis, Palin pointed to his call two years ago to rein in the bailed-out mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
Couric, noting that McCain had been in Congress for 26 years, pushed Palin for further examples. "I'll try to find you some and I'll bring them to you," the Republican running mate said.
Baltimore Sun television critic David Zurawik contrasted Palin's interview with Couric to McCain's no-show on another CBS program, "Late Show with David Letterman."
McCain cried off a scheduled appearance in New York with the acerbic funnyman, citing his urgent need to return to Washington to attend talks in Congress on an enormous economic bailout package.
But Letterman cut to a studio shot of McCain getting face powder applied at the very same time for his own interview with Couric, and then mercilessly poked fun at the Republican during the rest of his show.
Zurawik said that "between the two (TV appearances), it looks like some serious damage might have been done to the GOP (Grand Old Party/Republican) ticket."
The Boston Globe opined: "The honeymoon is over for Sarah Palin.
"After a third major TV interview during which her performance was uneven at best, even fellow Republicans are having trouble enthusiastically backing their vice presidential nominee," it said.
Palin wowed the conservative base when she was selected by McCain four weeks ago, but a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey suggests that 49 percent of voters believe she lacks the leadership qualities required in a president.
The McCain campaign has kept Palin largely sequestered from the media, and several conservative writers had attacked Gibson for adopting a prosecutorial tone in the governor's debut national interview with ABC.
But in the National Review, Parker wrote that Palin had betrayed insufficient knowledge of economics or foreign policy to show that she was ready to step up should something befall the 72-year-old McCain.
"As we've seen and heard more from John McCain's running mate, it is increasingly clear that Palin is a problem," she said.
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