Palin: Obama regrets bypassing Clinton

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin says she thinks Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama regrets not making Hillary Clinton his running mate.

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin says she thinks Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama regrets not making Hillary Clinton his running mate.

Mrs Palin praised Mrs Clinton’s “determination, and grit and even grace” during the Democratic primaries.

“I think he’s regretting not picking her now,” Mrs Palin told ABC News on Friday, referring to Mr Obama.

Mrs Palin’s highly anticipated first televised interview since joining the race was airing this week as Americans seek to learn more about her since Republican presidential candidate John McCain chose her two weeks ago.

Although she was not widely known in the US before getting the nod, Mrs Palin has energised the Republican party’s conservative base, pulling many of them closer to a presidential candidate they had initially eyed with wariness.

Mrs Palin’s entry in the race has also drawn support from many white women, and the McCain campaign hopes in particular that she can pull Mrs Clinton’s supporters away from Mr Obama.

“What determination, and grit, and even grace through some tough shots that were fired her way – she handled those well,” Mrs Palin said.

Mrs Clinton bowed out of the contest in June after a close race with Mr Obama for the Democratic nomination. Mr Obama chose a veteran senator, Joe Biden, as his running mate, and has been working to win over Mrs Clinton’s supporters, many of them women. Mrs Clinton has urged her backers to support Mr Obama and Mr Biden.

The Palin interview also touched on two claims that have been a staple of her reputation since joining the ticket: that she was opposed to federal earmarks and that she opposed the 398 million Bridge to Nowhere linking Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport.

Mrs Palin actually turned against the bridge project only after it became a national symbol of wasteful spending and Congress had pulled money for it.

Mrs Palin told ABC’s Charles Gibson that since she took office, the state had “drastically” reduced its efforts to secure earmarks and would continue to do so while she was governor.

“What I’ve been telling Alaskans for these years that I’ve been in office, is, no more,” Mrs Palin said.

On the Bridge to Nowhere, Mrs Palin said she had supported a link from the mainland to the airport but not necessarily the costly bridge project.

“We killed the Bridge to Nowhere,” Mrs Palin said.

A new survey released Friday has Mr McCain barely ahead of Mr Obama thanks to strong support from suburban and working-class whites and a huge edge in how people rate each candidate’s experience. The AP-GfK poll has Mr McCain leading 48 to 44%, and has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points among likely voters.

Mr Obama’s newest TV ad makes a none-too-subtle dig at Mr McCain’s age. It shows Mr McCain at a hearing in the early 1980s, wearing giant glasses and an out-of-style suit. Other images include a disco ball, clunky phone, outdated computer and Rubik’s Cube. “Things have changed in the last 26 years,” the announcer says, “but McCain hasn’t.”

Meanwhile, Alaska state lawmakers looking into allegations that Mrs Palin fired Walt Monegan, the state’s director of public safety, because he refused to dismiss a state trooper who had a messy divorce from the governor’s sister, voted to subpoena Mrs Palin’s husband.

The Senate committee acted at the request of investigator Stephen Branchflower, who is gathering evidence on whether Mrs Palin abused her power in the firing. Mrs Palin says Mr Monegan was let go because of a budget dispute.

Mr Branchflower said Todd Palin is “such a central figure. ... I think one (a subpoena) should be issued for him”.

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