Defeated McCain backs 'inspiring' Palin

Defeated US presidential candidate John McCain defended his running mate Sarah Palin today, denying that she damaged his White House bid and dismissing criticism of her as campaign sniping.

Defeated US presidential candidate John McCain defended his running mate Sarah Palin today, denying that she damaged his White House bid and dismissing criticism of her as campaign sniping.

“I’m so proud of her and I’m very grateful she agreed to run with me. She inspired people, she still does,” Mr McCain told TV host Jay Leno during a 'Tonight Show' interview. “I couldn’t be happier with Sarah Palin.”

Questioned by Leno on griping about Mrs Palin from unidentified McCain operatives in the days following the election, the Arizona senator said: “These things happen in campaigns.

“I think I have at least a thousand, quote, top advisers,” he scoffed. “A top adviser said? I’ve never even heard of ... a top adviser or high-ranking Republican official.”

But Mr McCain never directly addressed the embarrassing controversy over Mrs Palin’s expensive campaign wardrobe purchased by the Republican National Committee, or statements by unidentified McCain aides who have reportedly said she was not prepared on foreign policy.

The 44-year-old Alaska governor has said in interviews that she did not ask for or want the €115,000 wardrobe for her and her family.

Mr McCain disputed that a different vice presidential pick would have changed the outcome against Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

At campaign rallies “the people were very excited and inspired by her. That’s what really mattered, I think”, Mr McCain said. “She’s a great reformer.”

Mr McCain’s appearance at Leno’s Burbank, California, studio was scheduled to coincide with Veterans' Day. It was the former naval aviator’s 14th appearance on 'The Tonight Show' but his first TV interview as a vanquished presidential candidate.

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