- The Washington Times - Monday, September 8, 2008

CAMPAIGN

ABC lands Palin interview

NEW YORK | Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has agreed to sit down with ABC’s Charles Gibson later this week for her first television interview since Republican presidential nominee John McCain chose her as his running mate more than a week ago.

ABC would not release any details about where and when Mr. Gibson would question Mrs. Palin; a McCain-Palin adviser had said earlier Sunday that the interview was expected to take place later this week in Alaska. The interview with Mrs. Palin was confirmed Friday, ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider said.

The first-term Alaska governor has given speeches alongside Mr. McCain since becoming his surprise pick Aug. 29. But Democrats already have begun to question why Mrs. Palin has not been put before reporters to answer questions.

Mr. McCain, who on Sunday appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” said he expected Mrs. Palin to start doing interviews “in the next few days.”

CAMPAIGN

Biden downplays debating a woman

Democrat Joseph R. Biden Jr. says he has debated “an awful lot of tough, smart women” throughout his career and that next month’s vice-presidential debate with Republican Sarah Palin will be no exception. But he’d like to know where she stands on issues.

“She’s a smart, tough politician, so I think she’s going to be very formidable,” Mr. Biden told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

The senator from Delaware and the governor of Alaska are scheduled to debate Oct. 2 at Washington University in St. Louis.

Mr. Biden, serving his sixth term in Congress, said “there’s a lot of very tough, smart women in the United States Senate I debate every day.” So going up against the first-term governor, he said: “It’s not new.” He also mentioned his wife, Jill, who has a Ph.D.

Asked whether he would debate Mrs. Palin differently than he would Republicans Mitt Romney or Tom Ridge, two former governors who figured into speculation about John McCain’s running mate, Mr. Biden said the only difference is that he knows their positions on issues.

“I have no idea what her policies are. I assume they’re the same as John’s. I just don’t know,” he said of Mrs. Palin.

CONGRESS

House, Senate return to work

The House and Senate reconvene Monday after back-to-back political conventions, both parties eager to use the three-week session to show voters why their candidates are the ones to fix the economy and lower energy prices.

The only matter of business that must be accomplished is passing a bill to keep the government running from Oct. 1 through the Nov. 4 election and until Congress returns. Even that might not be easy. Republicans are threatening to block the spending bill if Democrats do not give them a vote on ending a quarter-century freeze on new offshore drilling.

Some lawmakers hold out hopes that an energy bill that has eluded them all year might come together. With 179,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Democratic leaders would like to pass a Pentagon spending bill so they can tell voters that the military’s basic needs are covered until October 2009.

SENATE

Kennedy plans January return

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who has brain cancer, intends to work from his Massachusetts home this fall and return to the Senate in January.

A Kennedy aide said Sunday that the Democratic lawmaker’s doctors are pleased with his progress, but want him to keep working from home through the fall.

The 76-year-old Kennedy made a dramatic speech last month at the Democratic National Convention in Denver that drew a rousing response from delegates. Mr. Kennedy has been one of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s strongest supporters.

“As Senator Kennedy said two weeks ago in Denver, he intends to be on the floor of the United States Senate next January when we begin to write the next great chapter of American progress,” spokeswoman Melissa Wagoner said.

RELIGION

Palin’s pastor prays for press

WASILLA, Alaska | A little sermon about - and for - the messenger seemed to Pastor Larry Kroon an appropriate message Sunday morning.

“It’s been an interesting week,” laughed Mr. Kroon, pastor at the Wasilla Bible Church, as he welcomed attendees. The nondenominational congregation where Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin and her family worship was carrying on services as usual this Sunday, but with a few extra guests.

In just more than a week since presidential candidate John McCain picked Alaska’s governor to be his running mate, Mrs. Palin’s hometown of 9,000 has been inundated with journalists from around the world. For days now, the media have delved into her terms as city council member and mayor here, and questioned residents and questioned them again for background on the state’s most famous politician.

Mr. Kroon urged churchgoers to “pray for the press.” He said the media are to be “cherished and respected,” citing 19th century philosopher Alexander de Tocqueville’s works describing a free press and freedom of religion as essential pillars of democracy.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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