Campbell Brown Interview Leads McCain to Cancel CNN Appearance

Will CNN's Campbell Brown go down as the next Dan Rather in the halls of liberal bias infamy?

That seems highly possible now after watching Brown's interview with John McCain strategist Tucker Bounds in which she repeatedly attacked Bounds over Sarah Palin's supposed lack of qualifications.

The highly charged exchange (which was very much in keeping with Brown's long record of attacking Palin) led the GOP camp to cancel an interview that John McCain was set to do last night with CNN's Larry King.

Full transcript of the Brown-Bounds exchange below the jump as well as CNN's later reference to it last night.

First the interview in question, which occured in the 7:00 pm hour of CNN's Republican National Convention coverage:

CAMPBELL BROWN: Tucker, foreign policy experience has been a huge issue in this campaign because you guys made it a big issue, pointing out John McCain has far more experience than Barack Obama and nothing in your view is more important than the campaign. I don't have to tell you there's a feeling out there by some that you're not holding your VP pick to your own standard, the standard you define. So explain to us why you think Governor Palin is ready to be commander in chief.

TUCKER BOUNDS: Governor Palin has the good fortune of being on ticket with John McCain who there is no question is the most experienced and shown proven judgment on the international stage. He understands foreign affairs.

BROWN: We know all that about John McCain, Tucker. I asked you about her. We all know the role of the VP as John McCain defined it is to be able to step into the job of the presidency on day one. I'm asking you about her foreign policy experience.

BOUNDS: Yeah, Campbell, there are a number of people supporting Barack Obama's candidacy and feel he's experienced enough to take on the oval office. Our feeling is --

BROWN: You're not answering my question --

BOUNDS: Just as much experience as Barack Obama.

BROWN: OK. So does she -- you -- what I'm saying is that you set a different standard by arguing how important it was with John McCain. No one's arguing with you he has much more experience than Barack Obama, so I'm trying to get someone from the campaign to explain to me what foreign policy experience or qualifications she has that would allow her to be ready to be commander in chief if something should happen to Senator McCain.

BOUNDS: Well, Campbell, let me be clear. I don't think there should be problem explaining her experience. She has executive state level experience. She's been in public office reforming Washington. She's been in executive office longer and in a more effective sense than Barack Obama's been in the United States senate. She's been the commander of the National Guard of the Alaska National Guard that's been deployed overseas. That's foreign policy experience.

BROWN: If I can interrupt for one second because I've heard you guys say this a lot. Can you tell me one decision that she made as commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard, just one?

BOUNDS: Yeah. She's made -- any decision she has made as the commander of the National Guard that's deployed overseas is more of a decision Barack Obama's been making as he's been running for the president for the last two years.

BROWN: So tell me. Tell me. Give me an example of one of those decisions. I'm curious, just one decision she mad in her capacity as commander in chief of the National Guard.

BOUNDS: Campbell, certainly you don't mean to belittle, every experience, every judgment she makes as commander --

BROWN: I'm belittling nothing. I want to know one judgment or one decision. I want to know what one decision was. I'm not belittling anything, I am curious.

BOUNDS: As she makes a decision how to equip or how to command the national guard in Alaska, that is more -- BROWN: But Tucker, those are the Pentagon's decision, that's General Petraeus, that's the White House.

BOUNDS: Pardon me?

BROWN: No governor makes decisions how to equip or deploy the National Guard. When they go to Iraq, those are decisions made by the pentagon.

BOUNDS: Campbell, on factual basis, they certainly do. In Alaska, if I have an emergency in your state, the National Guard is under the command of the governor. That is more of a command role than Barack Obama has ever had. I would argue John McCain and Governor Palin between the two of them have far more command experience in military than either of the candidates on the democratic side.

I do want to argue this is about the top of the ticket. Ultimately when people go into the ballot box and decide between Barack Obama and John McCain, they will decide between John McCain's record of reforming Washington and Barack Obama's rhetoric on the campaign trail, doesn't have a lot of experience, certainly has no command or military experience which both our candidates have. That's an important distinction I think voters will make the right call in November.

BROWN: All right. Tucker, I'm just going to give it to you, baby. We'll end it there.

BOUNDS: Appreciate it.

BROWN: I appreciate you coming on and taking the time to have this debate. I think it's important. People don't know a lot about her. They want to understand her qualifications as much as possible. We're not beating you up here. We're not trying to. We're just trying to educate ourselves and educate our viewers. So I really do appreciate your time and thank you for your time coming on. If I can, Tucker Bounds, if I can bring back our panel in for one second, David Gergen, commander in chief of the National Guard, is that a qualification to be commander in chief of the United States? I'm just asking.

From CNN's coverage last night of the incident in which Brown admitted that Palin had, in fact, deployed the Alaska National Guard to fight forest fires:

WOLF BLITZER: The McCain campaign said it believed the exchange was over the line. As a result, the interview with Larry King was pulled.

CNN does not believe Campbell's interview was over the line. We are committed to fair coverage of both sides in this election. By the way, you can see the entire interview at We hope senator McCain will join us here on CNN in the near future.

Let's discuss this whole issue, Campbell is here right now. I watched it twice. I thought your questioning was totally appropriate. I had no problem with any of the questions you asked.

Frankly, I was surprised that the McCain campaign reacted; they were so sensitive to that exchange. I've seen a lot worse, obviously, on television.

CAMPBELL BROWN: Certainly, I was a little surprised myself, obviously. I don't think it was over the line. That was a shortened version of a much longer exchange. We had been going back and forth over this issue, which was ultimately about her experience.

I think Senator McCain, very legitimately, made experience a huge issue in this campaign; talking about the experience gap between him and Barack Obama, rightly so. It exists.

Which I think, you know, set a different standard. So going into, you know, when they made their VP pick announcement, I think it made it a legitimate issue to say why aren't you applying that same standard to your choice for vice president?

And what that exchange was about was one of the talking points that we had heard repeatedly from the McCain campaign, that her foreign policy experience was part of her time as commander in chief of the Alaskan National Guard.

All I was trying to do was say tell me what that means. What does that mean? Did she make a decision? Did she pass judgment on something? Did she do something?

ANDERSON COOPER: The obvious answer to that is well, yes, she deployed on such and such a date. But there was not that answer.

BROWN: And interestingly, Anderson, I didn't do this research, but a friend of mine, John Dickerson, who contributes for us on occasion and writes for, did call the Alaskan National guard and in fact, she did deploy the National Guard to wildfires.

COOPER: Interesting though that they didn't know that.

BROWN: Apparently they didn't know about that and they just hadn't done their homework. So it's hard to blame us for them not being aware of this information. They should look into it, because we did and it's clearly there.

COOPER: Which then goes to a larger question which Democrats are raising quite vociferously is was she vetted enough? Did the McCain campaign really do the vetting?


2008 Presidential CNN Tucker Bounds

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