updated 11/13/2008 6:06:45 PM ET 2008-11-13T23:06:45

Two-time Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and Republican strategist Karl Rove don't see eye-to-eye on much, but in a spirited debate Thursday they agreed Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin needs to hone her knowledge of foreign policy and geography if she runs for president in 2012.

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Rove said he didn't care if, as a vice presidential candidate, Palin knew where South Ossetia or Abkhazia are, or if she could recite the minutiae of health care policy.

"But if she wants to run for president she's gonna have to get somebody to move to Anchorage, Alaska and help her take her game to another level," he said smiling. "Let's be clear about this ... it's really cold there most of the year."

Edwards and Rove debated President George W. Bush's record on health care, foreign policy and the economy at the Commercial Finance Association convention.

It was Edwards' second public event since acknowledging in August he had an affair in 2006. The former North Carolina senator was greeted warmly by the 1,000 convention attendees, and during the 90-minute debate never mentioned his personal issues.

Edwards said Palin's inexperience was too much for John McCain's campaign to overcome.

"The problem was, over time, particularly in the vice presidential debate ... it was fairly obvious she wasn't ready to be president, and that made people nervous," he said.

The debate was briefly interrupted by two demonstrators who called Rove a "war criminal" before being ushered out of the hall by security and booed by much of the crowd.

In an appearance here last month, a demonstrator tried to handcuff Rove.

Rove, reacting quickly to the disturbance Thursday, remarked on the handcuff incident by saying a friend told him, "Don't worry. That's how people in San Francisco say hello."

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