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Palin Interview Reaction Mixed

Reaction has been mixed so far to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's first national interview since becoming Republican John McCain's vice presidential running mate last week. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone reports from Washington.

Republicans liked the fact that Governor Palin was self-assured during her interview with ABC's Charles Gibson, and showed no hesitation when asked if she felt up to the job of vice president.

"On January 20th, when John McCain and I are sworn in, if we are so privileged to be elected to serve this country, we will be ready," she said. "I'm ready."

Democratic critics focused on Palin's response to a question about what is called the Bush doctrine, the policy of pre-emptive attack if the United States perceives a national security threat from another country.

Palin at first appeared unsure of what the Bush doctrine is, but later said in response that US President George Bush has tried to rid the world of Islamic extremism.

Palin's selection has energized social conservatives within the Republican Party, an important group within the party that has not always been close to nominee John McCain.

McCain has enjoyed a surge in the polls since the Palin selection and last week's Republican convention, and McCain paid tribute to his running mate again Friday on the ABC television program, The View.

"But the fact is, I think she is a great person," he said. "She is a great governor. She is the most popular governor in America. I am very happy and very pleased to have her and she has ignited a spark in America."

With less than eight weeks to go until Election Day on November 4, both candidates are ramping up their television advertising with competing attack ads.

Most polls show the race effectively tied, while others suggest McCain has pulled into a slight lead.

The Obama campaign released a new ad arguing that Senator McCain is simply out of touch with everyday Americans, and seems to imply that his age is a liability. McCain is 72 years old, while Obama is 47.

"He admits he still doesn't know how to use a computer and can't send an email," he said. "And he still doesn't understand the economy."

For its part, the McCain campaign continues to go after Obama and the Democrats for what it believes are unfair attacks on Governor Palin's lack of national and foreign policy experience.

Senator Obama campaigned in the northeastern state of New Hampshire Friday, where one supporter challenged him to be more aggressive in the face of Republican attacks.

SUPPORTER: "When and how are you going to start fighting back against the attack ads and the smear campaign?"

OBAMA: "Well, look, you know I have to tell you, our ads have been pretty tough, but I have just have a different philosophy, and that is that I am going to respond with the truth."

Republicans believe they benefit if the political focus remains on Palin. Democrats meanwhile are urging Senator Obama to shift the debate back to economic issues and to re-emphasize the links between Senator McCain and President Bush.