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September 30th, 2008
10:04 AM ET

You CAN see Russia from here!

Program Note: Governor Sarah Palin said you can actually see Russia from an island in Alaska. Our Gary Tuchman went to find this island... Watch his full report tonight on AC360.

Gary Tuchman | BIO
AC360 Correspondent

When talking about what she says is her foreign policy experience, Sarah Palin told ABC news "...you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska."
That quote made us want to go to that island.

So we did.

The island is called Little Diomede. It looks like a rock plopped into the Bering Strait. Only about 150 Alaskans live on the whole island. And just about two miles away; in full view of every single house on the island is the nation of Russia. Specifically, it is the Russian Island of Big Diomede which sits about 25 miles from the Russian Siberian mainland (which you can also see from the American island.) Most everybody on Little Diomede had relatives who lived on Big Diomede.

But decades ago, the Russian government sent them all to the mainland, and today, Big Diomede is limited to a Russian military presence. It's also a full day in front of Little Diomede because it's on the other side of the International Date Line. Little Diomede is fascinating. It looks like the moon would if you built a lunar settlement. It's full of rocks, dirt, and craters. We were curious if Sarah Palin has ever visited this island. According to the natives, the answer is no.

As a matter of fact, no Alaska governor in the state's nearly 50 year history has ever visited the remote outpost that still has little running water. We were curious what the Little Diomeders thought about Palin's claim of foreign policy experience because of the proximity of Siberia. Interestingly, many of these Alaskans had no idea who Sarah Palin was! It turns out they have no TV on the island, and therefore, many don't follow the news.

The island's mayor has heard of her though. No American mayor resides in a city closer to Russia than Andrew Milligrock, and he says being two miles from Russia doesn't give him any foreign policy expertise.

He does say she seems like an okay governor, but exclaims she should probably pay a visit to Little Diomede sometime. It may not help her foreign policy experience says the mayor, but would definitely help her domestic policy experience. We hope you'll watch our story about this most unique American island tonight on AC360.


Filed under: Gary Tuchman • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin • TV
soundoff (201 Responses)
  1. boydman

    bkrane, the house isn't IN Russia...you can just see Russia from it.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:13 pm |
  2. Dave

    So what exactly is Obama's foreign policy experience or for that matter what was Bill Clinton's foreign policy experience? As everyone should know it is not unusual for a state Governor to have no foreign policy experience. Everyone knows what she meant because Russian military planes routinely overfly parts of Alaska. Give up on this already. Has anyone gone after Sen. Biden for saying Franklin Roosevelt, after the crash in 1927 went on TV to reassure the people? First, it was Hoover and second there was no TV at the time. If Palin said this she would be crucified. I have never in my life seen such slanted reporting in my life. One side can do no right and the other can do no wrong. I am feed up.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:13 pm |
  3. MSM

    How pathetic!! And we, women, are allowing this to happen in modern America. We should be ashamed of this candidate and the Republican Party.
    It is time for us to send a very STRONG message to Washington and the whole World. The McCain and Palin ticket is not a real CHANGE, and nor McCain or Palin are ready to take over this mess that we, Americans, allowed to happen in the first place.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:13 pm |
  4. Li

    Gary and co:

    We all knew Palin's claim of having foreign policy experience due to her proximity to Russia was a complete lark, from the first time she even brought it up. But THANK YOU for physically taking the time and resources to visit Little Diomede and debunk what little credibility remains in this sad, desperate allegation of foreign policy experience.

    I look forward to the segment.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:13 pm |
  5. Ryan in NW Indiana

    AC- The fact that you sent a reporter to actually see if you can see Russia from Alaska highlights how ridiculous these claims are that you gain foreign policy experience because you can see Russia from your house. I could live with John McCain as president, but when he selected Sarah Palin as a possible substitute for him, after a 15 minute phone conversation(phone it in!), he offended every American principle we have come to believe in.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  6. Kim

    I think Sarah Palin should build a bridge to Little Diomede.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  7. David

    Brad asks what experience Barack Obama has with Russia or any other country, and laments that that is a softball question. You're right it is a softball. Here's your answer:

    Barack Obama worked on securing loose nuclear materials along with Richard Lugar(R – Ind.). The bigest source of these materials? The former Soviet Union. They co-sponsored a bill passed by Congress that led the U.S. to coordinate efforts with other nations to reduce weapon stockpiles and smuggling.

    The idea is to seek out and destroy surplus and unguarded stocks of conventional arms in Asia, Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  8. Nick

    Hey everyone – leave Keith alone. He's obviously not well read, and I seriously doubt that he is reading anything except for his own comment. But, Keith, if you are reading these entries (including this one) please show your love of this country by giving it the respect it deserves. You can start by capitalizing the name, as in America and American.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  9. Richard Rankin

    She should have been to the island and set up some defensive installations. After all, the Ruskies could come storming across the ice at any moment! Instead she spent all her time negotiating with the Russians over ownership of the icebergs.

    She's a dope. She believes the earth is flat doesn't she? I mean she believes in creationism doesn't she? Don't creationists think the world is flat?

    September 30, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  10. George, San Francisco

    Hey! Has anybody read Tales of The City by Armistead Maupin? I read about Little Diomedes and Big Diomedes in one of those books. They were writen in the late 70's, early 80's ... I guess Armistead was a Foreign Policy Expert at that time already! 🙂

    September 30, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  11. SR

    It is now evident that she can INDEED see Russia from Alaska, face it, there's at least one tiny-little truth that came out of that stingy mouth. The only thing sad about it, is that this does not make her an expert on foreign policy.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:10 pm |
  12. Hank Irelan

    As governor of Alaska, there you are resposible for trade mission to many countries. Alaska trades with many Asian countries. Our Northern shores is have the opening Arctic ocean and we have treaties that directlyeffect many in our state. The Doimeder forgot the mention the impact the Polar Bear situation will have. The state biologists deal with Russian Biologist quite often. Tonight there will be a Russian research vessal pulling into Nome's port. There have been many many actual not the talking BS diplomancy issues going on here. So there are those that don't know or make light of the experience. The Russian's are testing our military system over our state.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  13. Rena

    To Brain Mason –

    While I do agree with you that abortion and same sex marriage is not exceptable according to the law of grace neither is fornication, lying, and adultry which McCain and Palin both are guility of. So, with that said you have the right to vote for whomever you choose, but if you are basing your decision off that alone then your vote is a wasted vote. While I sin for what it is sin, and God does not see one greater than the other we must remember while he judges all sin he also forgive all sin except for blasphemy. And like God we must look at the whole picture while Mccain may stand for pro-life and same sex marriage he has deceived the American people with lies and corruption that has cost millions of Americans to not only lose their jobs but homes and future financial savings due to another sin that God abhors which is "greed". So, with all that said I will vote for the candidate who cares about the America people as a whole and who does not condon abortion or same sex marriage but leave them the opportunity to make a choice just like God left us the choice to choose Christ. I am so glad that God is not like man that he would immediately cast you to judgement of no return when we sin or make a bad decision but rather lovely correct us and give us a second chance a life of righteousness and eternity with Him. Remember a lot of these people are sinners the ones Jesus came for; not the righteous. So if I say this if any man is without sin let him be the first to cast his stone. Well said by Christ himself.

    So we need think before we just vote on just moral alone; but forgiveness as well. Let your light so shine that many will see your good works and that your Heavenly maybe glorified. This is what we should be doing not condemning the sinner.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  14. Cathy Briggs

    For the life of me, I can't figure out why McCain chose a running mate with so little expertise and experience. However, what scares me most is her cutsey attitude – "I'll have to get back to you on that!" How many women have fought for equality and suffrage, and this is what we have representing us? As Charlie Brown would say, "ARRGHH!"

    September 30, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  15. INESHCA

    Did anyone see the pictures of her recent visit to the mid east? WTH with the bare legs right in the face of the Pakistani and Afghan Presidents? I mean, we're talking about countries where women barely show their face, where female journalists like Hala Ghorani and Christiane Amanpour are always mindful of their appearance.

    If she does not have the sense to think about these things...... what can we expect from her on a larger scale?

    I swear.... Michelle Obama who isn't even running for offfice would do better PR for the country just by standing next to Barack at international affairs.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  16. Karen

    Airspace between Alaska and Russia is a critical issue of which I'm sure Gov Palin is well informed. Since moving to AK in 1971, I remember reading in the local paper of many instances in which Russian military jets have invaded Alaska airspace and been escorted out by planes from Alaskan military bases. In 1983, a passenger plane refueled in Anchorage and was shot down (no survivors) when it got lost and mistakenly trespassed into Russian airspace. There are two large Russian communities in Alaska–one of Old Believers on the Kenai Peninsula and another settlement (not religious) in Delta Junction, the site of our Missile Defense System. There are many Russian-Alaskan business contacts...on two occasions I have helped Russian geologists tour Alaskan mineral deposits. Several Alaskan geologists I know work closely with Russians geologists and have worked cooperatively in both countries. (I'm sure Gov Palin is aware of many other business connections in the State).

    Many Russian women have come to Alaska to marry. (Two to good friends of mine.)

    All these ties don't make me–or Gov Palin an expert on Russian foreign policy–but probably more aware of that country than most.

    And by the way, Russia can also be seen from mainland Alaska in the Teller area of the Seward Peninsula.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  17. JOE

    Hey Briam M, There's room on the Band wangon. Republicans for Obama!

    September 30, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  18. Brian, Pittsburgh

    Great reporting! It's nice to see an investigative reporter actually investigating something! Thanks!!

    You can see CNN from Russia.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  19. David

    I am still trying to figure out how Obama has foreign policy experince. Sarah doesn't have any, that is obvious. But there are so many that are convinced of Obama's, what is it?

    He had a recent Asian, Middle East, and European VACATION with an entourage of media. It was a vacation with alot of photo 'ops' and a couple of speeches that he would reverse or change the next day.

    Biden has foreign policy experience, but Obama does not. So why the 'but she would be a heartbeat away from being President'? I would rather a 'heartbeat' away with no experience, then the President having no experience.

    I agree with the concern of lacking foreign policy, but it being ignored for one party and a focal point of another. It is not anti-American to ask a question, but can it be asked of both parties instead of just one party?

    September 30, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  20. Jay

    Fred – last time I checked the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee spelled his name B-i-d-e-n. Perhaps before you offer criticism of Mr. Biden’s writing skills you should sharpen your spelling skills.

    The incident you are referring to occurred over 20 years ago. Mr. Biden did not cite the source for stump speech that he gave on one occasion, though he did cite the source on several other occasions. If the same infraction occurred today, it would be a non-issue.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:04 pm |
  21. steven

    OK you all have walked through the hole that Palin made for you. Go ahead and mock, jeer, humiliate and cut her throat while you're at it. Show her that she really made a bad decision in accepting McCain's offer because it would not be in her best interest to represent people that basically are no different than a wolfpack running wild somewhere. Do you all know how you sound? You don't deserve someone like her or McCain. You deserve Obama and you just might get him. The only problem for you will be when you decide you don't like him it will be too late.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:04 pm |
  22. Chris

    I am all for asking tough questions of all the candidates. However, it seems as though Gov. Palin has been grilled with very tough and direct questions while Sen. Obama has been handed a bunch of softball questions about his upbringing, how old his mother was shen she got pregnant....I can hear the violins playing in the background...Let's be fair! Both Palin and Obama lack foreign policy experience yet all we hear about is her lack of experience. Does everyone remember Obama's well orchestrated speaches abroad a few months ago to thousands of cheering Europeans – it was only a speach and does not constitute foreign policy. Why is everyone afraid to question Obama's lack of experience?

    September 30, 2008 at 5:03 pm |
  23. lee stewart

    I think Gov. Palin was nervous and not the usual politican we see..Most of them are very good at lying and sounding intelligent. Just look at the mess we are in and judge them for your self. If she is a fast learner she will learn Charisma and Charm and then be treated like Royality. She will be living in a compond and have loyal followers to make her a multi millionaire. Maybe she will even go to Berlin and give a speach.
    Lee Stewart

    September 30, 2008 at 5:03 pm |
  24. al g

    Lets get back to the real point.

    1. Governor Palin has no experience in foreign affairs and I don't care if she can see Russia from her snowmobile or not.

    2. Her attempt to pad her Resume was just plain stupid and foolish. Maybe that is the kind of nonsense that got her elected Governor, but now she is playing in the big league and stupid lies will not fly.

    3. If she thinks she can get by with off the cuff remarks and shallow statements, she should look at the tape of her interviews to date. She has become the brunt of jokes because as EF Hutton used to say, she earned it.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:02 pm |
  25. Paul

    A physician colleague of mine back in residency was Russian. I actually spoke with him. A good man and a good doctor. Has Gov. Palin ever spoken with a Russian? If not, then I have more Russian foreign policy experience than she does. What a laugh she is.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:00 pm |
  26. wes

    Didn't anyone notice the part about Russian miliatry being stationed there? For years we have been concerned about Cuba's proximity and the potential for enemy weapons there, and rightfully so. If Cuba is 90 miles away from our border and we are concerned, why then do we mock the fact that Russia has military establishments 2 miles away from our border? Why do you think Russia would put military out there in the middle of nowhere? Do you think it might have something to do with the U.S. being a ferry ride away? And as governer of Alaska, do you think maybe our government saw fit to brief Palin on any of this? Some of you folks are lowering the bar so far for Palin that you are only shooting yourselves in the foot. If she does even remotely well in the debate, which she probably will do with her background and coaching, then she exceeds all expecations and gets another bump in the polls. This is only compounded if Biden opens his mouth and says dumb things like Roosevelt went on tv when the market crashed, or that Clinton would have been a better pick, or if he resorts to his old tactics of stealing someone else's speech and using it as his own. This election is Obama's to lose, but some of you aren't helping him much. You would be wise to ignore Palin and pretend like she doesn't exist, which is the approach the Obama camp has taken. She's only as powerful as you make her, and your perceived "picking on" her only makes middle America root for her more. Also you must realize that no one votes for a VP, they vote for the top of the ticket. But by criticizing her experience, you are admitting that experience matters, and that only highlights Obama's deficiencies when compared to McCain in that respect. The republican's have baited a trap by putting Palin on the ticket, and all of you are proving yourselves unable to avoid stepping in it.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:00 pm |
  27. Melanie

    As an immigrant that is now a citizen, I am suprised that the great US of A has a potential VP that has no idea on how the world works outside of her backyard. We should all pray hard for this country and what will happen after Nov. 4th.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:00 pm |
  28. petegrif

    you guys are so down on Sarah

    she is like totally underestimated.

    and she is modest. while you are all making fun of her because you don't think she knows foreign policy even though she (unlike YOU) lives next to RUSSIA, she actually has more experience than you think.

    Sarah has spent quite a lot of time in Moscow. Which makes it plain that she actually is interested in Russia and does get it with Putin and all that.

    You don't believe me? Look it up. I know that it was Moscow, Idaho but it's still Moscow right? And that counts for something, so just you all back off.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:00 pm |
  29. Julio Hurtado

    A very sad reflection on our great nation: We spend so much time on silly comments, instead of trying to see if Governor Palin has the potential to fullfill the office of VP. It should be clear by now she doesn't have experience!

    Even sadder is the comment by Brian Mason above. He'd rather choose a Presidential team that wants to tell us what to do in our bedrooms, over one that can get us out of the economic and healthcare messes at home and the lack of true world leadership we suffer from.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:59 pm |
  30. Kishore

    I am not even eligible to vote here. Meaning, I am not a Democrat or Republican but this Election did increase my enthusiasm to follow the election. I thought both Parties did a great job in the primaries and have Great Canditates for Election. I thought if all Countries could do something similar to nominate their party representatives.

    But the Presidential campaign run by Republicans is frustrating at times because they just don't focus on the issues. Recently Mccain was baby sitting Sarah Palin in Katie Couric's interview. WHen Palin was giving speeches in the initial stages, the Republican crown was repeating everything " Drill baby Drill", Thanks But No Thanks. How is JOhn Mccain going to bring back jobs if he is driving/owning foreign cars. The best interview i have even seen is Palin/Hannity. (YEAH RIGHT!).

    Thanks CNN and ANderson for keeping it real.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:58 pm |
  31. miguel gomez

    Any news, comment or analysis coming from CNN has been critical of McCain, Palin or the Clintons, see any pattern here ? I mean, my comment goes to those people with an IQ over 151 like myself, not for those Obamaniacs that put passion before reason and intellect.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:58 pm |
  32. Wayne

    All the trouble you have gone to fact check is awesome! CNN's fact checking is a welcome addition to an otherwise smear driven, sound-biten campaign from both candidates.
    Finally information I can trust and use to make my decision.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  33. Jason

    A quick message for Jackie Scott above:

    It seems that you did as well in English class as you did social studies. Here are a couple of hints for you:

    1) Use spell check. Although it only does you good if you can come close to proper words.

    2) Only the congress has the authority to “Declare War” not the president (Although we all but seem to have abandoned the constitution on this issue among others).

    You want to know what I find scary? Your vote is worth as much as mine. If this is the future of America, the credit crisis is the least of our worries.

    One last thought…why all of this hatred between Democrats and Republicans. Are we all that much different? Don’t we realize that we are all just pawns in their battle for power and control. The president has a 25% approval rating which actually looks good compared to the 19% approval rating of congress. They all deserve to be tossed out. In the end, both parties want the same thing, they want to use our money to buy power. They just want to spend it in different ways.

    2012 (Anyone-Anyone but a Democrat or a Republican!) I’ll vote for that ticket!

    September 30, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  34. Peggy

    What a wonderful trip.............and I agree with an earlier comment. I would certainly expect Sarah Palin to dig in and work hard to make sure our country gets back to the moral and ethical roots of our great country. It won't be easy and it will take some time, but I feel like she has the heart and stamina to get the job done. I pray that she gets a chance.

    McCain/Palin in 2008

    September 30, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  35. Michael

    We bought Alaska from the Russians for $7.2 million. I wonder if we hadn’t, if Comrade Palinsky would be in their Politburo today claiming that her proximity to the U.S. gives her the international experience to become the successor and running mate to Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev should Vladimir Putin decide Dmitry isn’t quite the hockey dad he thought he claimed to be. Hmmm.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  36. Zoyd Wheeler

    Hey CNN....what about the arrogant Obama's utter lack of experience?

    I wonder what Obama could see from the community he was supposedly organizing?

    Whether Sarah could see Russia or not, she still has more experience than Obama...and much less arrogance than Obama.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  37. James

    I’m an international Flight Attendant. I have been in close to 100 differnt countries. I have meet Presidents, Former Presidents, Prime Ministers, Senators, Congressmen, Queens, and Kings. I have way more Foreign Policy experience than this beauty queen!

    I too have Seen Russia from Alaska, wait, I have been to Russia!

    September 30, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  38. Amy

    I happen to love this country we live in but in the last 8 years every thing the US once stood for has been rapidly declining. Oh, so very scary if this woman becomes our vice president and GOD forbid our president. Is the US to become the laughing stock of the world? Use your brains people, this is not a beauty contest or prom queen candidate we are voting for.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:56 pm |
  39. tom cassidy-florida

    The war worries me. The economy worries me. The chance of Sarah & Todd running our country scares the hell out of me. Face facts, McCain is seventy-two, his father died at seventy, grandfather at seventy-one. He was a hard drinking party guy and the years of terrible physical & mental abuse as a pow had to take a toll. In these times or anytime I just won't take the chance on our country's future destiny being left in the Palin's hands.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:56 pm |
  40. MO

    Dear Gary,
    What did you screw up so badly that they exiled you to (almost) Siberia?

    September 30, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  41. virginia

    I, too have been very close to Little Diomede. I was visiting some friends in Teller, AK. My friend had hiked out to the Russian outpost.
    He saw a pair of polar twin babies and the mother. Upon return, he met some locals, and they asked if he had seen any polar bears. He told them what he saw - he later saw the same bears only they were dead. You can bet he never revealed ANYTHING after that! I must say the Northern Lights were unspeakably beautiful!
    So Sarah said someone in the crowd was "hollerin' at her"!?!

    September 30, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  42. Annie Barrett

    Now that you've explored Governor Palin's little island, when are you going to Kenya where Barack Obama's family lives and talk to all his Muslim relatives who eventually will be visiting the White House should he be elected. I'm sure that would be an interesting visit, also, where perhaps many of them don't have TV, running water, etc. Tit for tat!

    September 30, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  43. jeff

    The "I can see Russia" is a little bit silly, but doesn't compare with "Roosevelt going on TV to dampen our fears during the depression". If that isn't the modern day version of potato, I don't konw what is. Why does Biden get a bye on that one?

    September 30, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  44. PkRipper

    "Who else on this planet would put forward a candidate with such a gaping lack of knowledge on foreign policy?"

    Dan Stewart, uhh, they're called... Democrats.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  45. Alan

    I used to jump on the band wagon to add my criticism regarding Sarah Palin. But now she does such a great job of discrediting herself that no amount of criticism could move people away from voting for her and McCain as much as her opening her mouth. I now feel sorry for her, she is bright, enthusiastic but so woefully unprepared for the position of VP that her gaffes precede her and unfortunately for their ticket a liability that the US does not need.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  46. Roger

    No television, running water, no luxuries whatsoever. Should have sent Bill Kurtis. At least he would have discovered the Internet out there.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  47. Joneswq

    If Plain’s ability to see Russia give her foreign policy experience, that means the Russians who can see the United States can claim foreign policy experience? Ridiculous! This choice speaks directly to McCain flawed judgment, seeking to make political points – putting Country SECOND! The choice was not vetted, it is more like the adolescence impulses of a young child.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  48. MG, TX

    I too live in Texas and can see Mexico across the river. I even cross the border into Mexico a couple of times a year. Am I now qualified to be Vice President?

    September 30, 2008 at 4:53 pm |
  49. rlm

    Hey, at least a bridge to Little Diomede would be a bridge to SOMEwhere! Maybe she should ask for an earmark....

    September 30, 2008 at 4:52 pm |
  50. Deanne

    At least Palin is brave enough to be in the spotlight. Any political figure understands and takes the risk that EVERY word they say is subject to scrutiny. You are not allowed to be human and are not allowed to make ONE SINGLE mistake in your choice of wording. If you make one single mistake the media will run with it for months and attempt to ruin you. This being said, you are expected to be even more error-free than Microsoft's Window's Vista! Now....who's brave enough to be VP of the United States? Hmm???

    September 30, 2008 at 4:52 pm |
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