NEW YORK — Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said Wednesday that the United States could be headed for another Great Depression if Congress doesn't act on the financial crisis.
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Palin made the comment in an interview with CBS evening news anchor Katie Couric while visiting New York to meet foreign leaders for the first time in her political career. As Palin sought to establish her credentials in world affairs, first lady Laura Bush said that Palin lacked sufficient foreign policy experience but was "a quick study."
Recent surveys have shown that Palin's popularity, while still strong, has begun to fade.
Earlier this month, an Associated Press-Yahoo News poll showed more people viewing Palin favorably than unfavorably, 47 percent to 28 percent. But an ABC News-Washington Post poll released Wednesday showed that in a two-week period, the number seeing Palin positively dropped 6 percentage points while 10 points more see her unfavorably. On Monday, a CNN-Opinion Research Corp. poll said her favorable rating dropped 4 points and her unfavorable rating rose 8 points over two weeks.
Palin has been in New York this week for a series of meetings with foreign leaders, part of an effort by Republican John McCain's presidential campaign to counter criticism that the former small-town mayor lacks the experience to be vice president, let alone president in an emergency.
The CBS interview was just her third major interview in nearly four weeks on the GOP presidential ticket. Asked whether there's a risk of another Great Depression if Congress doesn't approve a $700 billion bailout package, Palin said, "Unfortunately, that is the road that America may find itself on."
Palin said the answer to the financial crisis doesn't necessarily have to be the bailout plan that the Bush administration has proposed, but that it should be some form of bipartisan action to reform Wall Street.
Laura Bush told CNN that she thought Palin had "a lot of really good common sense" and commended her executive experience. Asked if she thought Palin had sufficient foreign policy experience, the first lady said: "Of course she doesn't have that. You know, that's not been her role, but I think she is a very quick study, and fortunately John McCain does have that sort of experience."
Palin got a glimpse of ground zero for the Sept. 11 terror attacks in New York as her motorcade made its way downtown to a private meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. She did not respond to a reporter's question about what she thought when she passed by the 16-acre site.
Her motorcade was stuck in traffic for a few minutes along its western border, where passers-by can see cranes jutting into the sky from the base of the deep pit that once was the World Trade Center basement. Crews are building a memorial to the attacks and a 1,776-foot-tall building to replace the destroyed twin towers.
Palin met with Talabani and then with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari before preparing to join McCain for an evening session with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Earlier Wednesday, Palin and McCain met jointly with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko.
The McCain campaign set up the sessions with the leaders, who were among those in town for the United Nations General Assembly.
Meanwhile, Palin's infant son and two youngest daughters headed home to Alaska after a day of quintessential New York sightseeing with their father, Todd Palin. He took the children to the tip of Manhattan to see the Statue of Liberty. The family also visited ground zero, and then ate hot dogs and soft pretzels in Central Park.
They stopped at the toy store FAO Schwarz, where daughter Piper tried on princess dresses, the campaign said.
At the start of her meeting with Talabani at a downtown hotel, the governor was overheard saying: "There's plenty to do here, isn't there? Plenty to see."
Just before the meeting with Zardari, a reporter asked Palin how her day was going. "It's going great. The meetings are very informative and helpful. A lot of good people share an appreciation for America," she said.
Zardari, upon shaking Palin's hand, said he now understood why so many in the U.S. "are crazy about you."
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