Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will eventually have to defend "some fairly extreme views" on climate change when she starts granting interviews as Republican presidential hopeful John McCain's running mate, her Democratic rival Joe Biden said Monday.
"Her views on everything from global warming to a host of other things, if they are as presented, they are pretty far out there," said Biden, Democrat Barack Obama's running mate, during a town hall-style meeting. "She's going to have to defend those positions."
Palin has expressed doubt over whether human activity has contributed to global warming and has clashed with environmentalists over classifying the polar bear as a threatened species and her defense of Alaska's right to shoot down wolves from the air to boost caribou and moose herds for hunters.
A woman in the crowd of about 1,000 people urged Biden not to "be afraid to debate her." Biden said he would debate Palin just as he does his female colleagues in the U.S. Senate.
"The idea that somehow, there's a woman, 'oh my God, I don't know how to deal with this,' I think guys who think that way have never been around strong women," Biden said.
Biden also pledged help for laid-off paper workers, courted Catholic voters and claimed to be a longtime Green Bay Packers fan.
The economy is a potent issue here, where paper companies have announced plans to lay off hundreds of workers in recent months. One of them introduced Biden: Greg Hinds, a union worker who is losing his job at Hoffmaster Group Inc. in Appleton along with 300 colleagues next year in a downsizing. The Delaware senator said he and Obama would put people back to work building infrastructure like roads and bridges and would support tax and trade policies to keep jobs in the United States.
"I've never seen so many people knocked down in America with so little attention paid by their government as to how to help them get back up," he told the crowd at the KI Convention Center. "You lose your job, you lose your sense of your own dignity and you lose a sense of your own self worth."
Obama and McCain are competing for Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes, and polls show a tight race.
Biden played up his own Catholic faith, suggesting an awareness of area's demographics. The Diocese of Green Bay counts 350,000 Catholics as members, or about 40 percent of the population in the 16 northeast counties it encompasses.
Biden said the priests at his Catholic school taught him to be a fan of the Green Bay Packers because of their ties to northeast Wisconsin, joking they were "prepared to canonize" coach Vince Lombardi.
On Mondays, he said: "If the Green Bay Packers won, we got out early. If the Green Bay Packers lost, we got more homework. So I'm a Green Bay Packers guy from high school!"
Green Bay and the surrounding area are traditionally conservative but Democrats have made inroads in recent years.