Sarah Palin, in her second TV interview since becoming John McCain’s running mate, told FOX News on Wednesday that voters are coping with a “do-nothing Senate” when it comes to energy.
The Alaska governor, who used to head the state’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said she would spearhead efforts to achieve energy independence if McCain is elected in November, and crush the “gridlock” in Congress.
“Energy is inherently linked to security and prosperity,” Palin said. “We sort of have a ‘do-nothing Senate’ right now where nobody’s wanting to really pick up the ball and run with it and take the steps that we have to take to become more energy independent.
“And it’s going to take a whole change in leadership in order to really crush that gridlock and get going on this,” she said.
Palin spoke with FOX News’ Sean Hannity in Cleveland, Ohio, a day after the House of Representatives voted to allow offshore oil drilling 50 miles or more off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. But the bill now moves to the Senate, which has indicated it does not intend to allow such an expansion.
Both Palin and McCain support offshore oil drilling, but they split over whether to pursue drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, in Alaska.
Palin, who supports opening up ANWR to drilling, told FOX News she’s pushing McCain to change his mind.
“McCain knows, more so than any other leader in our nation today, that for national security reasons we must be an energy-independent nation. We must start taking the steps to get there,” she said. “That’s why he has embraced offshore drilling. … And I’ll keep working on him with ANWR.”
In the wide-ranging interview, Palin also reacted to the developing turmoil on Wall Street, declaring the economy a “mess” while defending McCain against charges that he believes the markets merely are experiencing a hiccup.
Palin told FOX News that it was “unfair” for Barack Obama to criticize McCain earlier in the week for saying “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” She said McCain was clearly talking about the workforce.
“It was an unfair attack on the verbiage that Senator McCain chose to use, because … he means our workforce, he means the ingenuity of the American people,” Palin said. “And of course that is strong and that is the foundation of our economy. So that was an unfair attack there.”
She added: “Certainly it is a mess though. The economy is a mess. … And there have been abuses on Wall Street, and that adversely affects Main Street.”
The federal government announced it was bailing out American International Group, or AIG, on Tuesday with an $85 billion loan. The move comes on the heels of Lehman Brothers filing for bankruptcy, Bank of America’s buyout of Merrill Lynch and a federal rescue of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
Asked about AIG, Palin did not take a definitive stance, though she told reporters Wednesday morning she was “disappointed” by the move.
“I do not like the idea, though, of taxpayers being used to bailout these corporations,” Palin told FOX News. “Today it was AIG. Important call there, though, because of the construction bonds and the insurance carrier duties of AIG. But first and foremost, taxpayers cannot be looked to as the bailout, as the solution to the problems on Wall Street.”
Palin said McCain wants to reform Wall Street by “stopping the abuses and that violation of the pubic trust.”
She kept criticism of Obama to a minimum during the interview and said the campaign must get back to issues.
“(Voters are) seeing through the rhetoric, and they’re seeing through a lot of the political cheap tricks,” she said.
“I think the American people are getting down to the facts. And they’re looking at voting records, and they’re looking at allegiances, and they’re looking at what a vision is that each candidate holds and is sharing with the American people,” she said. “And there are such stark contrasts between Barack Obama and Senator John McCain.”
Palin repeatedly talked about wanting to “ruffle feathers” in Washington and said her own independent streak is why she was chosen to be McCain’ No. 2.
She said she felt “utmost honor” when McCain offered her the job.
“John McCain has that streak of independence in him that I think is very, very important in America today in our leadership. I have that within me also,” Palin said. “And that’s why John McCain tapped me to be a team of mavericks, of independents coming in there without the allegiances to that cronyism, to that good old boy system. I’m certainly a Washington outsider and I’m proud of that because I think that that is what we need also. … We’ll shake some things up.”