Tim Pawlenty was considered a front runner to be McCain's running mate, until Palin was selected. He makes a strong and exaggerated defense of Palin as the VP pick. Read the complete transcript.
[...]But the fact is that she has been governor less than two years and before that she was a mayor of a town with a population of less than 7,000. Her candidate at the top of the ticket has the bull of a constitution--has the constitution of a bull elephant, but he is a 72-year-old man and a cancer survivor. She will be a heartbeat away from the presidency. This country is engaged in two wars, it's facing a resurgent Russia, a rogue Iran, a financial crisis that may be the greatest since the Great Depression. I think our viewers want to know what's in her background that prepares her for dealing with all that and the possibility that she would have to step up into the Oval Office?
GOV. PAWLENTY: Well, first of all, I think Senator McCain, of course, one of his main attractions and assets and strengths that he's a maverick with a record of reform. She's a maverick with a record of reform. And if you look at her background and I know her a bit as a fellow governor, she's an individual who is smart, she's strong, she's capable, she's dedicated, she's diligent and she has executive experience. She's functioned as a governor, she's the commander in chief of a national guard, she's a former mayor, she's the former chair of an energy commission in Alaska, which is one of the more high-profile issues and operations in Alaska. She's deeply involved in the energy issues, which is really one of the foremost national security issues we have in our country in terms of its connection to transference of wealth to places like the Middle East and Russia and Venezuela. So she is somebody who I think is very capable to be in the executive position. And one last thing, Tom, she's running for vice president. She has as much or more experience as Barack Obama, who's running for president.
MR. BROKAW: But Barack Obama has been before the American people for more than 20 months now. He has debated 20-some times against some very tough opponents. He's participated in one-on-one interviews around the world. He's been vetted, in effect, by the American people, and in most national polls he continues to lead your candidate by a small margin. But people have made some judgments about him and they've not had that same kind of exposure to Sarah Palin. Let me just ask you, quickly, do you think that she would be better on the economy than Mitt Romney, who was a successful entrepreneur and governor of Massachusetts, or better on terrorism than Tom Ridge, the former governor of Pennsylvania, who also ran Homeland Security? Or better, in a lot of matters at the national level, than Joe Lieberman, who is John McCain's close friend from the Democratic Party who's been supporting your party?
GOV. PAWLENTY: Well, one of the objectives here is to be able to relate to and understand and meet and address the needs of average Americans, blue-collar Americans, people who are struggling economically, people who have had a tough time in life. That's a big part of the concern in this election, our economy. It helps to actually have lived that life or walked that walk. And so in addition to her role as governor, being somebody who is dealing with the economy successfully, by the way, in Alaska, she's also somebody who has, has a background, that's, you know, lived the life that, that we talk about. We talk about people sitting around the kitchen table and balancing a budget with a family and having to worry about meeting--making ends meet economically. She and her family have actually done that. I would say that's pretty good preparation for understanding and relating to the economic needs of average Americans.