New York Times: Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska will have meetings at the United Nations next week, officials with Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign said on Wednesday. The campaign did say that Ms. Palin would attend a protest against Iran outside the United Nations on Monday.
The New York Times
By ELISABETH BUMILLER and PATRICK HEALY
Published: September 17, 2008
WASHINGTON — Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska will have meetings at the United Nations next week, officials with Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign said on Wednesday. The campaign was vague on which foreign officials Ms. Palin might meet as well as the time and place of the sessions.
But the campaign did say that Ms. Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, would attend a protest against Iran outside the United Nations on Monday. Ms. Palin’s planned attendance promptly caused Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York to cancel her appearance at the same rally.
“Her attendance was news to us, and this was never billed to us as a partisan political event,” a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, Philippe Reines, said on Wednesday. “Senator Clinton will therefore not be attending.”
A spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin campaign swiftly replied that the rally should not be seen as a partisan event.
“Governor Palin believes that the danger of a nuclear Iran is greater than party or politics,” said the spokeswoman, Tracey Schmitt. “She hopes that all parties can rally together in opposition to this grave threat.”
Beyond the protest rally, Ms. Palin’s planned United Nations meetings are intended to heighten her foreign policy credentials. Ms. Palin, who has been governor of Alaska for less than two years, got her first passport last year.
A State Department official said on Wednesday afternoon that the department had received no requests for assistance with any meetings, as would normally come from a member of Congress or a governor meeting a foreign head of state. A White House official said that he was not aware that either Ms. Palin or Mr. McCain would attend a speech that President Bush is scheduled to give on Tuesday, the opening day of the United Nations General Assembly.
In Grand Rapids, Mich., as she took questions from voters on Wednesday for the first time since being tapped as Mr. McCain’s running mate, Ms. Palin was asked about her “perceived lack of foreign policy experience.” She invited people to play “stump the candidate.”
“As for foreign policy, you know, I think that I am prepared,” she said at a town-hall-style meeting with Mr. McCain. “And I know that on Jan. 20, if we are so blessed as to be sworn into office as your president and vice president, certainly we’ll be ready. I’ll be ready. I have that confidence. I have that readiness. And if you want specifics with specific policy, or countries, go ahead and you can ask me. You can even play stump the candidate, if you want to. But we are ready to serve.”
But before anyone could take her up on the offer, Mr. McCain stepped in to praise her qualifications, saying that she understands energy issues, had led negotiations for a new gas pipeline, and, as governor of Alaska, was the commander of the Alaska National Guard. “So I think she understands our national security challenges,” he said.
The rally on Monday is sponsored by several leading American Jewish organizations as a protest against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. Mrs. Clinton, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination this year and is now supporting Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, was one of several New York officials who planned to speak at the event.
The McCain-Palin campaign has been aggressively courting women and others who supported Mrs. Clinton’s presidential candidacy. Mrs. Clinton, while urging those voters to support Mr. Obama for president, has been careful to avoid a potential showdown with Ms. Palin.
Michael Cooper contributed reporting from Grand Rapids, Mich.