SAN ANTONIO - Sarah Palin questioned Republican presidential candidate John McCain's decision to abandon efforts to win Michigan, a campaign move she only learned about Friday morning when she read it in the newspapers.
In an interview with Fox News Channel Friday, the Alaska governor said she was disappointed that the McCain campaign decided to stop competing in Michigan. In an indication that the vice presidential candidate had not been part of the decision, she said she had "read that this morning and I fired off a quick e-mail" questioning the move.
"Todd and I, we'd be happy to get to Michigan and walk through those plants of the car manufacturers," Palin said, referring to her husband. "We'd be so happy to get to speak to the people in Michigan who are hurting because the economy is hurting."
Palin acknowledged the GOP ticket's lackluster poll ratings in the state, but said: "I want to get back to Michigan and I want to try."
Word of the McCain campaign's decision to move staff out of Michigan and stop advertising in the state broke around midday Thursday — the same day as Palin's vice presidential debate against Democrat Joe Biden. The campaign had decided Wednesday night that the $1 million a week it was spending in Michigan wasn't worth it with internal polls showing Democratic nominee Barack Obama approaching a double-digit lead.
On Friday, Palin sought to re-establish herself as an asset for Republican John McCain's struggling presidential candidacy, branding their Democratic rivals as liberals not ready to lead in a time of crisis.
Fresh off an upbeat debate performance, Palin told a ballroom full of $1,000 donors in Dallas that McCain advisers warned her that Biden was "a skilled debater."
"Now I know what they meant," she said. "He did his best to convince us that the two most liberal members of the Senate belong in the White House. But that was a tough sell, and especially in a time of crisis for our country."
The Alaska governor's fiesty tone came as she eased back into the campaign trail. She attended two fundraisers Friday in Texas and also meet privately with Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens to discuss energy policy. Pickens, once a major Republican Party donor, is sitting out this campaign to promote a plan to expand wind power.
As a governor of Alaska, Palin has dealt with a variety of oil and gas issues. She told the Dallas donors that as vice president, "one issue I will be leading is energy independence."
The campaign has planned a series of rallies for Palin in other battlegrounds. Among the stops scheduled for the days ahead are Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. She will also be in California this weekend for a fundraiser and rally.
Based on the schedule, the campaign appears to be relying on Palin to invigorate Republican voters in Colorado and North Carolina, states that have reliably voted Republican in past presidential elections. Obama leads in polls in Florida and Pennsylvania.
Palin is hitting the road after being sequestered for three days of debate preparation at McCain's Sedona, Ariz., compound and after interviews with ABC and CBS where she stumbled over foreign and domestic policy issues.
Palin told Fox News that she would spend more time speaking to reporters, a switch from the tightly managed media relations during the past month.
"I look forward to speaking to the media more and more every day and providing whatever access the media would want," Palin said.
Palin said she had been "annoyed" in her interviews with CBS News anchor Katie Couric and had been caught off guard when asked what newspapers and magazines she read and to name Supreme Court decisions she disagreed with — questions Palin appeared not to be able to answer.
Her responses, Palin said, were "an indication of being outside that Washington elite, outside of the media elite also."
But Palin held her own in the debate with Biden, displaying facility with some issues such as energy and comfort as an advocate for McCain and as a hard-hitting critic of Obama.
Later, in San Antonio, she let on that she was breathing a little easier now.
"Last night was fun, the debate," she told donors at the Marriott Rivercenter. "I was glad it was over when it ended."