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Alex Constantine - September 3, 2008

From NBC's Michael Levine
September 02, 2008

As questions have been raised over how thoroughly Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign vetted Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for the V.P. slot, it seems the McCain campaign was unaware of a video -- available online -- in which Palin talks about God's role in U.S. military action overseas, according to a political operative familiar with the situation.

The video, first reported by the liberal blog HuffingtonPost.com, is from a June Palin speech to the graduating class of commission students at Palin's former church in Wasilla, Alaska. While describing her family, Palin told students about her oldest son, 19-year-old Track, who is set to be deployed to Iraq this month with the U.S. Army. She urged students to pray “that our leaders -- that our national leaders -- are sending [soldiers] out on a task that is from God.”

She added, “That's what we have to make sure that we are praying for: that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan.”

“It's pretty uncomfortable stuff,” said the political operative, after watching the video online. “It's bad. It's really bad. … It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out.”

In addition to talking about Iraq, Palin also referred to God's role in her work as governor.

“I can do my part in working really, really hard to get a natural gas pipeline, about a $30 billion project that's going to create a lot of jobs for Alaska. … [but] I think God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that,” she said. “I can do my job there in developing our natural resources, in doing things like getting the roads paved and making sure our troopers have their cop cars and their uniforms and their guns, and making sure our public schools are funded. But really that stuff doesn't do any good if the people of Alaska's hearts aren't right with God.”

It wasn't all serious, though. At one point during the address, Palin praised the graduating class as “a bunch of cool-looking Christians.” Then she picked out one student in the crowd and said with a smile, “Ben, I don't know you well enough yet, but looking at you, I'm thinking, people are going to be interested in Jesus Christ through you because of the way you look - this red-headed Sasquatch for Jesus. You look good!” The students cheered. “Times are really changin'. And with the times that change, looks even change.”

The seven-minute speech is posted on the Web site of Palin's former church, the Wasilla Assembly of God. But, the political operative said, the McCain campaign seems to have had no knowledge of it when Palin was announced as McCain's running mate on Friday.


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