The question is: Can Palin give a coherent answer?

David Usborne reports on the latest television performance by the Republican vice-presidential candidate

The reviews of Sarah Palin's latest television appearance tumbled in yesterday and they were ugly. In only the third major broadcast interview since she was selected by John McCain as his running mate at the end of August, she seemed at times lost for words and not all those she spoke fitted together.

The financial crisis means less attention will be paid to it than might otherwise have been the case. It could be, meanwhile, that Mrs Palin's unhappy performance will lower expectations ahead of her encounter with Senator Joe Biden at the vice-presidential debate in St Louis next Thursday.

It remains possible that the CBS interview will be known as the moment when the high gloss that Mrs Palin wore upon her selection before the Republican convention – burnished by her performance in St Paul – began to fade.

Even as members of the American media strive to avoid appearing snobbish or elitist in their treatment of Mrs Palin, most commentators seemed unable to disguise their sheer consternation at a performance that at times seemed worthy less of a candidate for vice-president than for school president. "Marginally responsive," was the gentle verdict of the Los Angeles Times after watching the interview of Mrs Palin by Katie Couric, the anchor of the CBS Evening News, shown on Wednesday and Thursday. The influential blogger Andrew Sullivan complained that the Governor was skittering not between "talking points" but "babbling points".

At the debate in St Louis, Mrs Palin will need to be better prepared and more articulate. Especially surprising, perhaps, was her difficulty with a question that they could have seen coming regarding her repeated assertions that the proximity of Alaska to Russia gives her foreign policy experience. What did she mean, Couric asked?

"That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land boundary that we have with – Canada. We have trade missions back and forth. We – we do – it's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America where – where do they go? It's Alaska."

She did not fare better when asked why the banking bailout package was important. Mrs Palin said it was about healthcare reform. She added: "Um, helping, oh ... it's got to be all about job creation too. Shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track."

Couric, neither aggressive nor patronising, asked Mrs Palin about Mr McCain's record of supporting deregulation and what examples she could give of the senator supporting oversight of the financial sector. She suggested failed mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but Couric wanted another. "I'll try to find some," the Governor said, "and bring them to you."

Debate has been raging about the unusual protective handling of Mrs Palin by Mr McCain's team. On Thursday, she took questions from a few reporters at Ground Zero, the first such encounter. The Katie Couric interview came after sessions on ABC and Fox News. Otherwise, she has largely been kept in a box.

This may have been a disservice to the Governor if it has denied her the chance to get accustomed to press attention. She seems drained of confidence.

Over Alaska-Russia, Mrs Palin almost came unstuck entirely. She struggled to describe the media reaction to her claims. The word she apparently sought was "caricature", but she couldn't summon it. "It – it's funny that a comment like that was – kind of made to – cari – I don't know, you know? Reporters ... "

"Mocked?" Couric asked.

"Yeah, mocked, I guess that's the word, yeah." The mockery may have only just begun.

The Couric interview: Who said what

Couric: You've cited Alaska's proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?

Palin: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and, on our other side, the land-boundary that we have with Canada. It's funny that a comment like that was kinda made to ... I don't know, you know ... reporters.

Couric: Mocked?

Palin: Yeah, mocked, I guess that's the word, yeah.

Couric: Well, explain to me why that enhances your foreign-policy credentials.

Palin: Well, it certainly does, because our next-door neighbours are foreign countries, there in the state that I am the executive of.

Couric: I'm just going to ask you one more time – not to belabour the point. Specific examples in his [McCain's] 26 years of pushing for more regulation.

Palin: I'll try to find you some and I'll bring them to you.

Couric: In preparing for this conversation, a lot of our viewers ... and internet users wanted to know why you did not get a passport until last year. And they wondered if that indicated a lack of interest and curiosity in the world.

Palin: I'm not one of those who maybe came from a background of, you know, kids who perhaps graduate college and their parents give them a passport and give them a backpack and say go off and travel the world. No, I've worked all my life. In fact, I usually had two jobs all my life until I had kids. I was not a part of, I guess, that culture.

Suggested Topics
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little