GREENVILLE, N.C. — After weeks of limited contact with the news media, Republican vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin ventured to the back of her campaign plane Tuesday and answered several questions from reporters.
The Alaska governor discussed why she and the McCain campaign have made an issue of Democrat Barack Obama's relationship with 1960s-era radical Bill Ayers amid a market meltdown that has many voters fearing for their investments. Palin repeatedly has claimed during the past two days that Obama had launched his political career with help from Ayers, a founder of the violent Weather Underground group responsible for bombings during the Vietnam War era.
Obama campaign aides said the Illinois senator did not know of Ayers' past when they first met in Chicago. Palin told reporters the lack of clarity about their relationship was precisely why it was relevant to raise it on the campaign trail.
"It's relevant to connect that association he has with Ayers, not so much he as a person Ayers, but the whole situation and the truthfulness and the judgment there that you must question if again he's not being forthright in all of his answers, "Palin said. "It makes you wonder about the forthrightness, the truthfulness of the plans he's telling Americans with regards to the economic recovery."
Pressed on whether she was saying Obama was dishonest, Palin said no.
"But in terms of judgment, in terms of being able to answer a question forthrightly, it has two different parts to it, that judgment and that truthfulness," she said.
Palin said also claimed her husband, Todd, is "an open book" on the controversy back home involving allegations that the couple pressured state officials to fire the governor's former brother-in-law, a state trooper.
"Nobody has anything to hide," she said.
Both Palin and her husband had refused to be interviewed in the state Legislature's probe, and Palin said the inquiry "has been kind of a goat rope, very partisan and very controversial type of investigation."
Palin reiterated her disappointment that John McCain's campaign had pulled out of Michigan, saying she had hoped to share the GOP ticket's economic message with blue-collar voters there. And she said she'd love to appear on "Saturday Night Live" with Tina Fey, who's made famous a hilarious caricature of Palin.
"I love her, she's a hoot and she's so talented. It would be fun to meet her, imitate her, and keep on giving her new material," Palin said of Fey.
Reflecting on the campaign in which she was transformed from relative obscurity into a visible national figure, Palin said she'd been "energized" by the experience and had high hopes for victory in the Nov. 4 election.
"We're at the halfway point and there is a lot that can happen and will happen in this campaign still to go," Palin said. "I've been in an underdog position quite often in my life and so has John McCain and we've both come out victoriously from that underdog position."
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