(Photo: AP/Matt Rourke)
Often criticized for being inaccessible, Sarah Palin opened up this week in her first radio interview since becoming the Republican vice presidential nominee to reveal her thoughts on her critics, her faith, and the economic struggles currently faced by Americans.
The Alaska governor, somewhat surprisingly, had few harsh words for her critics and reporters accused of using “gotcha” journalism to discredit her qualification for the second highest public office during her interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday.
Instead of venting frustration, Palin said she welcomes those “pop quizzes” because they are “good testing grounds” that motivates her to work harder.
“It makes somebody be even clearer and more articulate in their positions,” Palin, who noted that she also has a journalism degree, said on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.” “So really I don’t fight it. I invite it.”
Palin shared that she thinks the hostility is stemming from discomfort with the fact that an outsider is contending for the position of vice president of the United States.
“I think that that’s kind of taken some people off guard, and they’re out of sorts, and they’re ticked off about it,” Palin said, “but it’s motivation for John McCain and I to work that much harder to make sure that our ticket is victorious, and we put government back on the side of the people of Joe six-pack like me … ”
When the topic turned to the economic downturn, Palin readily said that she knows what Americans are going through. She said her husband and her are also currently going through tough economic times, “which may put me again kind of on the outs of those Washington elite who don’t like the idea of just an everyday working class American running for such an office,” she contends.
In particular, she revealed that her husband’s 401(k) plan was “hit” by the stock market crisis and they probably lost $20,000 last week.
“I’m thinking, ‘Geez, the rest of America, they’re facing the exact same thing that we are,’” Palin said.
“We understand what the problems are,” she added.
The Republican vice presidential nominee shared that she and her husband worry, like the average American, about how they will pay for their three teenagers’ college education and how they have in the past struggled with securing health coverage – sometimes paying out of pocket or forgoing it hoping no one would get sick.
In the past month, Palin with her folksy, no-nonsense attitude has taken the nation by storm since McCain declared the then little-known Alaska governor would be his running mate.
While social conservatives and the old guards of the Christian right have coalesced behind Palin and the Republican ticket, opponents have decried that she lacks experience for the office being only two years into her governorship.
They also find fault with her strong pro-life stance and question her religious affiliation.
For Palin, she shared that the attacks on her pro-life position has probably been the “most hurtful and nonsensical slap” so far in the campaign.
Her decision to give birth to her son Trig, who has Down syndrome, came from the belief that he had something precious to give to the world, Palin explained. Baby Trig has become somewhat the poster child for the extent of his mother’s pro-life belief.
“[S]ome would consider my position on life and trying to usher in a culture of life … as an extreme position when to me, an extreme position is one that Barack Obama took when he was in the Illinois State Senate, not even supporting a measure that would ban partial birth abortion, not even supporting a measure that would during, after a botched abortion and that baby’s born alive, allowing medical care to cease and allowing that baby to die,” she charged.
“That to me is extreme. That’s so far, far left it’s certainly out of the mainstream of America.”
In regards to her religious faith, which has come under heavy scrutiny since her ties to a Pentecostal church was revealed, Palin stated that her personal faith is “very, very simple.”
“I don’t belong to any church,” she stated. “I do have a strong belief in God, and I believe that I’m a heck of a lot better off putting my life in God’s hands, and saying hey, you know, guide me.”
“That’s about as simple as it gets with my faith” she said, “and I think that there is a lot of mocking of that,” noting afterwards that she hopes people can learn to respect her religious views as she does of those that hold different beliefs from her.
Palin’s Hugh Hewitt interview on Tuesday was a lead up to her highly-anticipated first and only vice presidential debate with Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden Thursday night.
The event - which pits the veteran lawmaker Biden, who has been a U.S. senator for 35 years, against relatively political newcomer Palin - is being hosted by Washington University in St. Louis and will start at 9 p.m. ET. Both candidates are expected to debate topics ranging from domestic to foreign policy.