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Boehner Defends Palin’s Experience, Hopes McCain Flips on ANWR

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) today defended Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin against Democratic attacks that question whether presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain’s pick for a running mate has the experience to be president.

“Who’s ready on day one to be president of the United States?” Boehner asked rhetorically while speaking to reporters. “Nobody is.”

But Boehner asserted that Palin has more experience than Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, noting that as chief executive of a state, she has had to make decisions on her own rather than just voting one way or another.

“I think John McCain hired someone who is a perfect complement to his career in Washington. … He’s a reformer, she’s a reformer. He’s bucked his party, so has she. She’s taken on the status quo in her state, and clearly John McCain has taken on the status quo during his time in Washington.”

He added that “liberal, elitist Democratic Senators” criticizing her experience “do so at their own peril.”

“This is the chief executive of a state,” he said. “It’s this elitist attitude that they portray that by God if you’re not a Washington insider you don’t know anything about what it takes to be president. … This lady, she’s a strong woman who’s built a career on her own. … To suggest that she is not qualified or inexperienced, what does that say about Sen. Obama, who three and a half years ago was a state senator in Illinois?”

He then knocked Obama. “Just because you’ve made two trips to Afghanistan and Iraq does not give you experience.”

Boehner also said he hopes McCain will take a trip to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with Palin and decide to reverse his opposition to drilling there. Boehner took a delegation to Alaska earlier this summer and met with Palin.

“She is a very forceful advocate,” Boehner said. “I hope he’ll change his mind.” Although even if he doesn’t, Boehner said, “He’s in agreement with us on 99 percent of what we want.”