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. richieh

    Do you realize that John McCain is 22 years older than the State of Alaska?

    September 30, 2008 at 4:51 pm |
  2. Cochese

    Send Keith to Alaska and leave him there.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:51 pm |
  3. Rob

    Funny thing is – Palin just seeing Russia is already more experience than Obama can offer!

    September 30, 2008 at 4:51 pm |
  4. Audrey

    Did you find out anything about the trade missions with Russia that Sarah talked about with Katy? Did you witness any trading going on? If so how did the traders get 'back and forth'?

    Perhaps Joe will ask Sarah during the debate.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:51 pm |
  5. Musason

    Sarah is a beautiful person from all aspect but she never thought or see her as a running mate for a very elderly person (John McCain) this soon...she was taken offguard to be used in a political theater that might end her career if McCain didn't win the presidency. McCain has made an expensive bet in gambling to pick Sarah as his running mate just for the fact that Obama did not pick Hillary as his running mate to anger her supporters by making them become too immune to Obama's candidacy.
    If she can see the whole world from her window doesn't give her a stake in foreign policy, there must be an interaction but it is sad that she hasn't even visited that Island she is talking about...the people don't even know their governor...how sad?
    Sarah is just a political tool to win votes for McCain and it doesn't seem to be paying for him...they have scripted her and her body language show that she is not buying into it because she has showed the American people that she is capable on her own and up to task to be the vice president, not knowing the enormous demands that comes with being on the ticket which includes talking to the press without calling them "gotcha journalist".
    Sarah is a woman but her approach to foreign policy if elected will be of a male model which will make her look more like Dick Cheney thereby undermining the power of President John McCain.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:51 pm |
  6. JC - California

    I'm really trying to firgue out where Sarah Palin is coming from it seems and sounds like she so far in left field. After hearing Sarah explain again by Katie in her second interview with McCain at her side she still sounds like she rehearsed her lines.

    Palin was put in a bad situation and McCain has come off looking like her saviour by jumping in and putting words in her mouth.

    Thursday is going to be another test for Palin if she passes will be all on her shoulders, but its really clear that Palin has bitten off more than she can chew and Mccain has a big problem and he refuses to admit this. McCain thinks he can play hide and seek with Palin and speak for her when she can't answer for herself.

    I wonder who looks more risky McCain or Senator Obama?

    It's 3am and the phone is ringing where is Senator Mccain?

    He's out gambling in the casino.....

    We need a real leader who can handle a crisis and who will be ready to pick up the phone at 3am. A leader who is calm and shows restraint in a middle of a crisis.

    Senator Obama has proven this time and time again.

    Obama for President.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  7. Charleen, Huntsville, AL

    I think it is absurd not to think as Gov. of Alaska that you would not take into account on a regular basis what your neighbor is doing. That neighbor being Russia. Especially since they have started taking large steps backwards in their public stands. I don't expect the governor of any state to have experience in foreign affairs, but I think Americans need to look at the main issue. Does she have the ability to step into the role of Vice president and work? People seem to forget the President and the VP have advisers. I want an educated person who when confronted with a situation can weigh the options and make an informed decision. It's so sad that their not looking at what really matters what kind of decision maker are the candidates and can they really lead.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  8. Kevin

    "You can see Russia from an island in Alaska!" But she's never even been there. What's sad is that Sarah Palin spouts these things off as if she really knows from first hand knowledge. This is just another example, from her own backyard, that she only knows what the Karlrovian/McCainian handlers tell her.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  9. karen-phoenix

    Gary: Excellent reporting but I'm still scared to death of Palin and McCain!!! Such very, very, very, very, poor judgement on both their parts!!!

    September 30, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  10. Phil

    Interesting. Going all the way to this little island to make a sarcastic point about Palin's lack of foreign policy experience. Obviously she has not had a lot of foreign policy experience. Big deal. She is not being sold as an expert on foreign policy. She has qualities that compliment her running mate, McCain who IS an expert on foreign policy.

    When will CNN or anyone for that matter start looking this critically at the democratic PRESIDENTIAL candidate? Where's all of his extensive foreign policy experience? Where is his experience period? Remember Obama is running for president, Palin is a VP running mate.

    Make jabs all you want. It's fine to point out the limitations of the candidates, but at least be objective and equitable.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  11. Randy Howard

    Consider playing-off Governor Palen's comment to explore the foreign policy issues the US is facing in the Arctic. The decreasing polar ice cap is not only opening potential new oil fields, but may well change major shipping routes. The countries bordering the Arctic are already debating border issues and staking claims.

    Move beyond the barbs. 🙂

    September 30, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  12. nemo

    As long as we see things as democrats or republicans, we are going to be in a lot of trouble. We will never be objective if we take sides.

    frankly, Sarah Palin, has no idea what has happened to her. she cannot answer one simple question. she does not quality to be in the position you want to put her. Running the only superpower on earth.

    You guys, its like your trainer asking you to lift 300 pounds when you are only, 155pounds. its not gonna work. I love republicans as well democrats. I will be objective to to the truth, I am American first.

    We are messing this innocent ladie's life. Now they are asking her to cram over 100 pages of foreign policy in a day, to face a man who has been dealing with foreign policy for 35 years.

    How is she going to respond to the crisis in Dafur for example? does she know what Dafur is, where it is, it its a country,?
    If I were Sarah, I will call in 4 hours before time, on Thursday.

    Please Sarah, Call off, or phone it in.!!!

    September 30, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  13. Melissa

    I would feel sorry for Sarah Palin if she weren't so arrogant to have tried to run for VP in the first place. When McCain sewed up the primaries and Obama and HRC were still duking it out, I thought this was a win win win scenario. Even if my candidate and camp didn't win, at least the McCain is reasonably intelligent, heroic, honorable and honestly well intentioned. Now, I am so disgusted with the slimyness, the finger pointing and the erratic gun-jumping, I will do anything I can to ensure Obama wins this election. Help us Obama-wan, you're our only hope.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:49 pm |
  14. Ken

    Sarah Palin is great! The fact that the liberals, athiests and immoralists hate her guts with a vengence is a sure sign that she would be an incredible VP. They know this and they are very threatened by the possibility that she will become very popular. That is why the media is filling the airwaves with slandar and why SNL (those scum sucking worms) are filling our TV with fake images of Sarah (via Tina Fay). They can't stand that we might actually get to know who she really is.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:49 pm |
  15. Dan, NJ

    Palin wasn't relying on the sole proximity of Alaska to Russia to "prove" her foreign policy experience, but surely someone with that proximity is given national security briefs. Russia had been our long time enemy, and in many ways is beginning to show its old self. The strategic location of Alaska surely says something about the national security information given to that state's most executive office. Even if this information is only pertinent to Russia and contingincies plans etc, it is still more than your good ol' friend Barack Obama has. You can argue all day that Obama may or may not have more experience than Palin, but in the end it doesn't matter because Palin is the VP pick and Obama is running for President! This comparison is humorous.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:48 pm |
  16. Carol

    It seems that I have to remind everyone that SHE IS NOT RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT. She has been selected for VP. And her resume has more accomplishments than Barry Obama!! It is funny that the only thing you liberals can talk about is this one comment. Really old news. And I have lost count of the lies that Obama has said. His nickname is right, Both Ways Barack!! He can't make up his mind!!

    September 30, 2008 at 4:48 pm |
  17. Ricky

    You can't even see Russia from Chicago. What gives Obama foreign policy experience, running for President? Being a community organizer? Lets hold the presidential candidate to the same standard that we hold the vice-presidential candidate.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:48 pm |
  18. Louise

    Keith don't forget..these ARE CNN types..I'm only on it because the article intrigued me and I have nothing against Anderson Cooper..

    September 30, 2008 at 4:44 pm |
  19. Dave Williams

    Why don't you ask why the experienced and knowledgeable Joe Biden doesn't know A. That FDR was NOT the president in 1929 and B. We DIDN'T have television in 1929 so FDR(who wasn't even the president) couldn't even go on TV to calm the public.Had Sarah Palin said that incredibly stupid comment on a network interview you would have crucified her. No network bias??? Yeah right!!!

    September 30, 2008 at 4:44 pm |
  20. Linda H

    I am anxious to see the VP debate Thursday night. I believe Joe Biden will eat Palin alive!!!

    September 30, 2008 at 4:43 pm |
  21. Carlos

    This is almost like lying in your resume, saying that you have foreign policy and international relations but never actuallly had it.
    Look she will be the second right hand person to the President, to the most powerful person in the world. You should have some idea, if not know more than the president on many issues, you need to start reading and discussing issues that will affect the American people, your job is to look out for the best interest of the American people, you will be an advisor to him and a represantative going to international meetings. You should have an outlook and insight as to what's going on in the world because this will affect any domestic and foreign policy, such as national security, free trade, globalization, and the like.
    What's your position and what should we do? these are question that you have an opinion at all time. Hillary did not get where she's at just by looking pretty, she's smarter than McCain and Obama put together.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:43 pm |
  22. Corinne

    You can make fun of Palin but she has more experience than Obama who is running for President...not VP.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:43 pm |
  23. Steve D

    That photo is not recent. You might get snow in September, but you wouldn't have deep snow and a solidly frozen sea.

    I do favor creating a government bureau on Little Diomede. Bureaucrats who screw up can be promoted there.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:42 pm |
  24. Jeff Atkins

    Amen Bro. Mason.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:41 pm |
  25. Dave

    I pity this country when they elect Barak Obama for president, then we will see inexperience in action. I am sure his extensive experience will have prepared him to deal with Putin or that nut job in Iran. Lets remember one thing Sarah P is running for VP, not president. If you want to throw rocks at her take a hard look at your alternatives on the other side. Out of the four candidates, I will take one who has put on a unifrom and fought for this country. Enjoy the freedom of speech that your veterans provde for you, while you still can. Our enemies are licking there lips at the prospect of an Obama presidency.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:40 pm |
  26. Mickie

    Wow, that was about the only fact she has been right on. Keith needs to go live in Russia where people aren't allowed to speak their mind - oh and take McCain with you because that's what Bush and McCain are trying to do.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:40 pm |
  27. BigO

    Sarah Palin has little foreign policy experience. She's running for vice-president. Barak Obama has little foreign policy experience. He's running for president. Which one scares me the most? Obama.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:40 pm |
  28. bkrane

    Keith – isn't one of McCain's 62 houses in Russia?

    September 30, 2008 at 4:11 pm |
  29. Mike


    Read the Bill of Rights. There's nothing anti-American about speaking your mind.

    Being narrow-minded, however, makes you look silly. The very concept that being able to see Russia makes you a great expert on foreign policy is outrageous and incredibly transparent.

    I've been to Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait. Does that make me an expert on the Middle East? No, absolutely not.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:10 pm |
  30. Pete

    Keith... really??? Anti-American??? You are a fool if you think individuals are anti-American if they do not support the McCain-Palin ticket. I am speechless to this comment and find it amazing anyone would think such a thing.
    Please educate yourself or the very least watch your words as you may come-off as ignorant.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:10 pm |
  31. Linda

    I can't believe you went there, now you too can be President..........foreign affairs experience and all.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:09 pm |
  32. Scott


    What does having a discussion about a canidates qualifications have to do with being un-american. It is just like the republicans to twist the rights of the american people to debate something as simple as a foreign policy experience question into a commie-pinko liberal fear monger statement like that. I suppose next we will want to raise taxes to pay for a larger government to regulate the view too, huh!


    September 30, 2008 at 4:07 pm |
  33. Chris

    Keith – what appears to you to be anti-american is actually our very real concern that Sara Palin is in no way fit to be the United States' Vice President. If we didn't care about the country, it would be a non-issue. Think about it.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:07 pm |
  34. Buddy

    Sarah Palin can handle a gun thats enough foreign experience for me. If I were in the military and Obama became president I would go AWOL.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  35. kj


    What a bold statement "Anti-American." Just because we know who the better candidate is, does not make us anti-American. In fact, it makes us better informed Americans.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  36. T. Ottinger

    Okay, now you get to read from a life-long Alaskan who has visited the area in question...To Carol: you heard incorrectly, as if you had read the body of the text, you would have known that most of the relatives have been resettled on the mainland. Further, the Russian military doesn't allow for "visits" as they rarely provide any emergency assistance if needed! To Gary from Canada: no, there isn't a bridge to the island as, again read the text, there are only 150 people there! Continuing, the island is far enough of the Seward Peninsula and the water so inhospitable, that a bridge would be completely unfeasable (unlike the Bridge to Nowhere, in question, which would link a major consumer hub in SW Alaska with its AIRPORT–though I am not in favor of that, either). And finally, although I am not a fan of her, Guv Palin is extremely popular and was voted into office with an overwhelming majority. To outsiders she must seem out of touch and sadly inexperienced, but so were Bush and Clinton (though, again, I am not a supporter and I can't watch the debate on Thursday as I can't stand to see the impending trainwreck and the subsequent embarassment she will suffer).

    September 30, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  37. Adam

    This is very smart. They should start sending diplomats to Alaska to gain foregin policy experience on Russia. I'm sure Putin is terrified at this idea because all his secrets will be in the open. No Russian can fool an Alaskan. Therefore Bush should send few of his guys to Alaska first before talking to Russians. That kind of foregin policy experience is what they are lacking now.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  38. Gene

    I think someone should contact Putin and ask him if he's ever been to Alaska.. or even flown over Alaska in his entire lifetime... since that's where he goes when he "Rears his head"

    September 30, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  39. Roger

    Keith, Anti-American??? Isn't it American to have divergent opinions and be able to express them? Also, your comment lends towards intolerance of others holding their own views unless passed through the keith-o-meter. Please understand that we are all Americans concerned as you are. Vote your conscience and we will vote ours. As a final post script...have you been reading and hearing the convservative commentators, and columnists who are a little shaky also on Gov. Palin? Let's all let our votes count.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  40. DeeDee

    Isn't it funny how she is boasting about something she has never seen herself. Makes me wonder if she boasting about alot of other things she hasn't experienced. Someone seriously needs to give her a lifeline cause she's gonna need Thursday.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  41. Ron

    Anyone who has ever been on that island and looked at Russia is qualified to be VP, including the CNN crew. Maybe McCain should have picked the mayor of Little Diomede to be his running mate!

    September 30, 2008 at 4:04 pm |
  42. Darlene


    That's very anti-american of you to say!

    September 30, 2008 at 4:04 pm |
  43. MT

    Let us build A BRIDGE TO Big Diomede. Then we could spend a billion dollars for agents to staff it like the toll road collector on Palin's bridge.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:04 pm |
  44. Jane

    I can only assume, this candidate will resign. She is such a danger with her slick attitude – when she talked yesterday with Uncle McCain at her side – she used the word, well – like, and also imitated the voter's question, like, an 8th grader girl at lunch. This is a disaster and if McCain thinks she is Ready to be MY VP – or President – She is not – I have to move over to the BLUE – to Obama. I cannot take this risk for my family and for the country.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:04 pm |
  45. Evelyn Leone

    Do I need a Visa to cross to Little Diomede?
    I live in Seattle, that's close to Alaska, that's mean that I can go to Russia via Little Diomede with no papers?.....

    September 30, 2008 at 4:04 pm |
  46. Mary

    EXCITTING to see the news about Little Diomede. I was a teacher there in the mid 1980's before they built the water tower and the women of the village used to haul ice down from the top of the "rock" for water to do laundry.

    Its expensive to go there and no where to stay when you get there so I've never been back in all these years and I've heard that Moses Milligrok died a few years ago. He was a very great leader and very well respected. I wish I could see Little Diomede again.

    After living on Little Diomede a while, and looking at Russia and their military war games, I decided to go to Russia a few years later to teach (after Glasnost) and taught in Siberia. Very interesting experience.

    I hate to say it but I think I have more information about foreign policy than Palin has. Would you elect me to be vice president?

    September 30, 2008 at 4:04 pm |
  47. fred salgado

    Don't worry abourt Sarah Palin. I am more worry about Joe Byden here is a guy that can't even write his own speeches. Last time I checked he was caught copying a couple of them. This is Obama's first move and first blunder.
    By the way is this the same Joe Byden that keeps running for the presidency every four years?

    September 30, 2008 at 4:04 pm |
  48. Janet from California

    Well, I've been to all 7 continents. Guess that gives me enough foreign policy experience to run any country in the world. 🙂

    September 30, 2008 at 4:04 pm |
  49. Dave

    Well KPO, She did say what if Russia wanted to take over Alaska. That would mean invading the US. I highly doubt if they took over Alaska they would stop there. Also many countries through out history have fought over stupid things. The Israelis and the Palestinians have been fighting over a sliver of land with a mountain on it in the desert for over 2,000 years.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  50. Jim

    "I just want to know what makes people want to live way off like that with barely any water or amenities. "

    Maybe because they'be been doing it for 2,000 years?

    September 30, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
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