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Sarah Palin on Dick Cheney's worst act as VP: shooting another hunter

October 2, 2008 |  4:36 pm

CBS anchor Katie Couric’s series of interviews with Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin made headlines nearly every day in the last week, and the final installment that airs this evening will likely be no exception.

As part of the "Vice Presidential Questions" series running on "CBS Evening News," Couric asked both Palin and her Democratic counterpart, Sen. Joe Biden, to name the best thing and the worst thing Vice President Dick Cheney has done in office.

Palin cited Cheney’s support for the troops as his best accomplishment. The worst, she said: “I guess that would have been the duck hunting accident."

The Alaska governor, a longtime moose hunter, was referring to Cheney’s accidental shooting of a fellow quail hunter on a Texas ranch in February 2006.

"You know, that was an accident," she said. "And I think that was made into a caricature of him. And that was kind of unfortunate."

Biden had a different take on the vice president.

"There's not many things I'd pick that I thought he's done that have been good," he said. "But I admire his strength. I admire his willingness to take positions that are completely contrary to popular opinion. But I think that what he's done has been just -- I don't think Dick Cheney trusts that the American people can make judgments that are in the interest of the country. ... I think he's done more harm than any other single elected official in memory in terms of shredding the Constitution. You know -- condoning torture. Pushing torture as a policy. This idea of a unitary executive. Meaning the Congress and the people have no power in a time of war. And the president controls everything. I don't have any animus toward Dick Cheney, but I really do think his attitude about the Constitution and the prosecution of this war has been absolutely wrong."

Couric also asked the two candidates to name a previous vice president who impressed them and explain why.

PALIN: Oh, my goodness. It would have to be -- vice president -- just a candidate, and that would have to have been Geraldine Ferraro, of course. That's an easy one for me because she's -- she's the one who first shattered part of that glass ceiling anyway in American politics. So it would be she as a candidate.

COURIC: What about as an actual vice president if you had to name one?

PALIN: My goodness. I think those who have gone on to the presidency -- George Bush Sr., having -- kind of learned the ropes in his position as VP and then moving on up.

BIDEN: Lyndon Johnson. For all the foibles he had as president -- in people's minds -- he really knew how the system worked. He was able to be a significant facilitator of a ... new frontier. New policy. People in the Congress knew him, knew he knew a lot. And so I hope one of my roles as vice president will be as the person actually implementing Barack Obama's policy. You gotta get the Congress to go along with it. And I -- presumptuous to say, but I know it pretty well. And I think I am fairly respected on both sides of the aisle.

On a lighter note, Couric asked both to name their favorite movies. Biden picked "Chariots of Fire." Palin answered "old sports movies like 'Hoosiers' and 'Rudy.' "

Palin’s halting responses to some of Couric’s previous questions –- particularly her struggle to explain why Alaska’s proximity to Russia gave her foreign policy experience –- spurred a fresh round of media coverage questioning her readiness and appears to have dampened enthusiasm for her candidacy.

That has upped the anticipation for tonight’s debate between Biden and Palin, which has been breathlessly described on the cable news networks throughout the day as an epic political bout. Check it out for yourself: the 90-minute forum airs live on ABC, CBS, PBS, Fox, NBC and a host of cable networks at 6 p.m.

-- Matea Gold