Claims department: Presidential race

McClatchy NewspapersSeptember 4, 2008 

THE CLAIM: Sarah Palin has military command experience as head of the Alaska National Guard.

THE STORY: When John McCain introduced Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate Friday, the Arizona senator emphasized her role as the commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard.

Later, when questions were raised about Palin's lack of experience in national and international affairs, the McCain campaign pointed again to her military command experience as governor. Some reporters have tried to follow up.

"Can you tell me one decision that she made as commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard?" CNN journalist Campbell Brown asked Monday while interviewing McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds. "Just one?"

Bounds couldn't, because Palin has never personally ordered the state guard to do anything.

Instead, here's what he said: "Any decision she has made as the commander of the [Alaska] National Guard that's deployed overseas is more of a decision than Barack Obama's been making as he's been running for president for the last two years."

But the governor has no command authority overseas or anywhere in the United States other than Alaska, said Maj. Gen. Craig Campbell, the service commander of the Alaska National Guard.

"When members of the National Guard are federalized, they work for the president," Campbell said Wednesday. And in Alaskan operations, Palin has never told Campbell what the Guard should do.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The claim is false.

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