Palin says she's ready to step in as president

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FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska (AP) -- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said Thursday that she didn't blink when Republican John McCain asked her to be his running mate, a surprise selection that shook up the presidential race.

"I didn't hesitate, no," she told ABC's Charlie Gibson in her first televised interview since accepting the Arizona senator's invitation to be on the Republican ticket two weeks ago.

"I answered him 'yes' because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we're on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can't blink. So I didn't blink then even when asked to run as his running mate," said the 44-year-old Palin, a governor who has been in office less than two years.

Asked if she felt ready to step in as vice president or perhaps even president if something happened to the 72-year-old McCain, Palin said: "I do, Charlie, and on January 20, when John McCain and I are sworn in, if we are so privileged to be elected to serve this country, we'll be ready. I'm ready."

Gibson also read Palin a comment she made in her former church - "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God" - and asked whether she thought the United States was fighting a holy war.

Palin said she was recalling Abraham Lincoln's words when she made the comment and said: "I would never presume to know God's will or to speak God's words."

Asked if her son Track who is headed to Iraq was on a mission from God, she said she didn't know about that.

"I don't know if the task is from God, Charlie," Palin said. "What I know is that my son has made a decision. I am so proud of his independent and strong decision he has made, what he decided to do and serving for the right reasons and serving something greater than himself and not choosing a real easy path where he could be more comfortable and certainly safer."