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Palin And Gibson

A nominee for President, or in the case of Sarah Palin, Vice-President, can pretty much sit for any interview with any media outlet at any time.

Determining which interviews to do, and when, is therefore critical.

Up until last night's interview with ABC's Charlie Gibson, the McCain campaign had shielded Governor Palin from the media.  And based on her performance yesterday they were right to do so.

Let's first give Gov. Palin the benefit of the doubt -- Barack Obama, John McCain, and Joe Biden had all been running for President for the better part of the last two years.  They have each answered thousands of questions, from journalists, and citizens at town halls.  They know what questions to expect and the "right" answers to give. They each know how, in other words, to run for President.  Gov. Palin does not -- and last night it showed.

Her answers to a fairly basic set of foreign policy questions were formulaic and unimpressive.  She didn't say anything disqualifying, but it is unlikely that anyone watching would have come away sanguine about her ability to step in as President on Day One if necessary.

This would not have surprised the McCain campaign.  They were no doubt aware before yesterday of Gov. Palin's abilities as a candidate.  She gives a strong speech, has a compelling bio, and tells a good story about her record -- but if last night is any indication, lengthy interviews about policy are not her strong suit.

Don't expect to see her do many more.  The risk/reward calculus here is not complicated.  The McCain campaign knows they will pay a price for keeping Gov. Palin from the national press -- but they also know that price is worth paying if it buys them insurance against her giving a disqualifying answer to a legitmate question.   --

--Howard Wolfson