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. Chris T.

    Did Sarah Palin name the island in the interview, or did she just say “…you can actually see Russia from "land" here in Alaska, from an "island" in Alaska.” If it is the latter, be afraid, be very afraid. Your comments in your "ad" for the piece about Little Diomede are very telling. She is USING Little Diomede for her own puffery, but can't even name the island. As some have said in this blog, forget foreign policy, what about domestic policy? What about HER CONSTITUENTS in Alaska on "an island in Alaska". So many Americans that I have spoken to feel disconnected from their central government, these isolated people have no connection with their own governor, let alone Washington. That seems troubling to me.

    September 30, 2008 at 6:20 pm |
  2. Sammy

    The comment above by Brian Mason is, unfortunately, the sad and delusional view that many Americans share. It's absolutely absurd and it pains me to know that people so ignorant walk the Earth.

    September 30, 2008 at 6:19 pm |
  3. Sammy

    You like Sarah because you think she will get things done? You have an instinct that she would make a good president? Yes, I said PRESIDENT because that's exactly what she would be within a couple years. John is 72 years old. Seventy Freaking Two. The same man who gave info to the enemy FOURTY TWO TIMES when he was a POW. He is a traitor. Back to Sarah, though. She knows nothing about this country, how it is run, or how we interact with the world. That alone, among MANY other reasons, is good enough of a reason not to elect her.

    Also Tina, what exactly does "I think she would roll up her selves and get what does to be done…done." mean? I have no idea how she would roll up her "selves" and I absolutely have never heard the phrase "get what does to be done...done" before. In fact, it doesn't even make sense.

    Please use your mind, not your gut.

    September 30, 2008 at 6:16 pm |
  4. Hans Gerwitz

    Nevermind "anti-American" Keith. Brian Mason's comment above scares the living bejesus out of me.

    September 30, 2008 at 6:13 pm |
  5. Patricia

    I am a business woman (and now former republican) who is so personally embarrassed by Sarah Palin as our “female representation” on any ticket! Shame on McCain for thinking any woman with any brains would fall for this "give'em what they want so you can get what you want" trick. This “All Beauty, No VP Brains” trick from the 72 year old hero an indication McCain is only putting himself first.

    September 30, 2008 at 6:08 pm |
  6. Betty

    Hey, my Dad has not only seen Russia from a distance, he has actually VISITED it – now that's a heck of a lot of foreign policy experience! Can he run for VP? Pleeez?
    And to Brian Mason who says he is voting for McCain/Palin ticket simply for their stance on same sex marriage and abortion despite the fact that he knows Palin is unqualified: wow. I am truly terrified to think that there are others out there with the same thinking. GOD SAVE US!

    September 30, 2008 at 5:56 pm |
  7. Mike

    Buddy – "Sarah Palin can handle a gun thats enough foreign experience for me."

    I think this qualifies as the most ignorant comment I've read today.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:52 pm |
  8. Dustin

    If Palin has no experience, what about Obama? He has only been a senator for two years and has no experience running or governing anything. How is he any different than Palin? He's just a smooth talker. Anyone can read a speech that someone else wrote for them.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:51 pm |
  9. John

    Obama has accomplished nothing as a Senator. Where's his experience? When did he go to Iraq? AFTER he came up with his policy. This man is frighteningly inexperienced, and he's at the top of the ticket. He's dangerously egotistical and arrogant.

    I had a lot more to say, but the moderaor is obviously an Obama-ite, so I'll go over to Fair and Balanced and post it there.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:46 pm |
  10. Chris

    Ed, your comments are ridiculous. First of all....come on man, do you not see through the Hillary garbage?? She "supports" Obama, but does she really want him to win?? She (as with MOST politicians, D and R) has alterior motives. You know she wants to run again in 2012. Second. DO NOT BLAME the republicans for the financial crisis. If anything, it's greed on both sides of the aisle. Are you forgetting the fact that Bill Clinton was a big advocator of sub-prime mortgages in the late 90's? Hmmm. Third. This is not a bailout of Wall Street, and those of you who think it is need to WAKE UP and STOP BEING IDIOTS. Don't you get it?? There is a credit crunch for all of america, not just Wall St. If banks are given liquidity, they can then lend to the average american (presumably you, Ed). If not, Ed, how are you going to get that loan to pay for your kids education, or that new car you were eyeing. If you want to call it a bailout, then at least admit that it's a bailout for you and every american in this country. I live in NY and most people here seem to get that. Does that not resonate with the rest of America? I don't understand....

    September 30, 2008 at 5:46 pm |
  11. Jay Khan, England

    To Catherine The Great,

    Indeed the Jews would live under different rulers for two thousand years and make periodic rebellions which would be brutally crushed by the then rulers.

    Indeed Christianity saw also saw some of the most brutal supression of Judaism as it gained its identity and grew rather hostile to towards Judasim.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:45 pm |
  12. Anais

    All this talk about questioning a candidate's credentials being unAmerican is absolutely ridiculous - and unAmerican, to boot! It should be the DUTY of each American voter to scrutinize the candidates for president and vice president to determine their fitness for office and whether the platforms they advocate are ones they should support through their precious votes. To be an unquestioning voter is the equivalent of being a serf in Tsarist Russia, the modern version of which Sarah Palin has apparently never seen because she has never visited Little Diomede Island! We are supposed to be a republic composed of critically thinking voters, as our Founding Fathers envisioned, not unquestioning serfs or fascist sheep.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:45 pm |
  13. Rick


    These people are NOT anti-American....that are anti-stupid!

    September 30, 2008 at 5:44 pm |
  14. Brian

    September 30th, 2008 4:06 pm ET

    "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." -Buddy

    Dear Buddy,
    I am in the military, currently serving in Iraq. I have been here since May 25th, 2008. Since that time, 100 of our American Servicemembers – my friends, brothers, and sisters, have given their lives so you can say things like that. 100 sets of parents, wives, and children have received a visit or a late-night call informing them of the unthinkable. If we elect another president that makes flippant foreign policy decisions, it will surely be thousands more. If handling a gun is so important to you, why don't you pick up one, grab a plane ticket and join me here? No, you wouldn't do that, would you? You don't have enough courage in you to join the military, just enough to make a sad little anonymous post on the internet. By the way, it's not called AWOL anymore. Its called UA (unauthorized absence).
    -Brian, COB Adder, Dhi Qar Province, Iraq

    September 30, 2008 at 5:40 pm |
  15. Annitta Roberts


    I have lived in Alaska for 35 years and I have never been to Little Diomede either, but then again, I am not a politician.

    I do, however, live in a village on the Kenai where the main language is Russian. it is an old Russian dialect, but Russian just the same and one of my grandson's converted and married into the faith.

    I live in the original Old Russian Orthodox Old Rite Believers and most of them probably don't even know what is going on anyway, and frankly, they don't care.

    So, let's see:

    1) Live in a semi-closed community where Russia is main language;
    2) sit on "city" council where Russian is spoken but they speak English for this old broad.
    3) I help to make decisions regarding certain issues pertaining to the welfare of the community and thus:
    4) I have more experience and knowledge with "foreign" affairs than our Gov.
    5) When are Mcain's people going to come and interview me for the job of goodwill to Russia?

    Thank you for listening to this old baba and bless


    September 30, 2008 at 5:39 pm |
  16. Carol Bounds

    This is to Tina:

    Keep dreaming dear, because Sarah Palin is a train wreck getting ready to happen. I don't care how much coaching they give her, she is a disater waiting to happen. If McCain dropped dead, there is no way she could run this country. He would have done better if he had pick Romney or Liberman.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:37 pm |
  17. rob

    People say Palin has no foreign experience – I guess that means she's just tied with Obama...Oh yeah – except she's not even running for president!

    September 30, 2008 at 5:32 pm |
  18. Elizabeth

    Wow. If McCain really wanted to pick a woman as a running mate, there were thousands who would have been more qualified than Sarah Palin. Moreover, I would prefer a qualified man to an unqualified woman any day. What message will this send to women throughout the US if this poorly educated, uninformed woman is elected to the vice presidency? Don't we deserve better?

    September 30, 2008 at 5:32 pm |
  19. Ed

    One of the most beautiful benefits of being American is the freedom of choice. It amazes me how so many of you were geeked when Hiliary was running for President, but the same individuals are hesitant to support Obama. Is race a major factor in your decision? I love Hiliary, but she lost fair and square and now she's supporting Obama, which is a very honorable thing to do and the right thing to do. That's a great example of solidarity. Palin is ignorant and she's a liar, and the same for little McCain. How can McCain identify with the average american when his lifestyle is not "average?" McCain is out of touch and cannot identify with those of us who work hard to keep food on the table and a shelter over our heads. Palin does not support sex education in schools, and the republicans publicly display her unwed, teenaged daughter to the world as if it's a beautiful thing; however, we look down on other races in the same situation! Look at our economy people. The republicans have destroyed our economy because of greed, and now they're asking for a bailout for the mess that they've created. God is not pleased with the U.S. Especially in regards to racism! God loves us all equally. Barack is the best choice, not McCain-t!

    September 30, 2008 at 5:31 pm |
  20. Don

    In the early 1970's, two people crossed from Little Diomede to Big Diomede. One walked across on the ice in winter, and was later committed as a mental patient. Another one (a radio DJ seeking publicity) waited until summer and rowed across in a bathtub. He was not committed. Sounds to me like it should be the other way around. And maybe we should have Andrew Milligrock running for Vice President. He sounds like he's got his head more squarely on his shoulders than Sarah "Walks on Ice" Palin.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  21. Richard James Turner

    I don't understand the failure to recognize Republican candidate’s campaign claims to be pro-life for what it is.....campaign rhetoric!
    I'm not taking a position on this issue, I'm simply saying that year after year candidates claim they'll repeal abortion yet never do it. Furthermore, we as a society seem content soaking it in then forgetting all about those promises. President Bush made the same promises, yet in eight years, the majority of that time with a Republican House and Senate, he has never proposed a bill to repeal abortion.
    Why then will we turn right around and state that we are voting for a candidate because of their stand on abortion? If their convictions lack action then the result is the same!

    September 30, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  22. Clay

    It seems to me that people are still forgetting that northeastern Russia and for that matter Alaska (especially closer to Russia) are sparsely populated areas. Alaska is NOT on Russia's doorstep. Russia's doorstep is in the west of Russia where most of their population, military, and government establishments exist. Moscow is still well over 4,000 miles from Alaska. But more importantly... Why is none of this information in the news!?!?!

    Either way... foreign policy experience is about conducting communications with other countries or creating policy to influence them. Living in Alaska does not give someone experience conducting foreign policy with Russia. Living in Key West does not give someone experience conducting foreign policy with Cuba. Living in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, or the many other states that share a border with Canada does not give someone foreign policy experience with Canada.

    Therefore if someone wants to claim foreign policy experience because they live in a state bordering another nation, then they need to bring real substance that shows what they have done and what they know. What are their views? What are their policies? Ultimately, it is a politicians' choices that affects our country. I want to know a politicians' policies, so I can figure out what choices they will make.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:28 pm |
  23. larry

    Gary, what was the price of gas there?

    September 30, 2008 at 5:28 pm |
  24. Vicki

    Sarah Palin is a joke and as a woman I am offended that the republican party put her on the ticket. It gives women who have experience in a different light now, due largely to the republirats. We are not stupid Senator McCain, and just because she is a woman is no reason to vote for her. The policies that you stand for re outdated and serve the wealthy. There have been so many lies in your campaign its ridiculous. Palin will have her butt handed to her on thurs and i will be laughing the whole time. Maybe she should stick to running her own house, oops im sorry she couldn't do that effectively either.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:27 pm |
  25. James

    The problem as I see it is that the american public places too much weight on trivial items when they vote. I do not see how anyone can in their right mind vote for the McCain ticket after the recent events. When I seen one of the comments here that stated how McCain's decision to pick Palin was wrong, but they are voting for him anyway becasue "I am supporting the McCain/Palin ticket simply for their stance on same sex marriage and abortion." This to me is one of the huge problems that is wrong with America. How can you vote for someone because of two things that will not affect your life. You are willing to put someone in the Whitehouse that will make the economy worse and a VP that has no idea of whats going on. Trust me that in putting McCain into office, your life will be affected in a negative way. People need to learn to vote on what really matters and what affects our lives. I am sorry but gay marriage and abortion should be a non issue in determining who to vote for.

    As for who is the right candidate? I don't know as I have not seen the right one in my life. I am still waiting for that candidate that wants to be the president because he or she loves their country and wants to see it run correctly versus someone looking to be in a position of power.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:27 pm |
  26. melissa

    Everytime I see Palin speak it scares me to even think that she could be our vice president. And it just goes to show that McCain isnt qualifed to run this country if the cant even pick a responsible VP.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:27 pm |
  27. Brenda

    Do you think Mccain can pick another Vp before the election? He can always keep Sara Palin as his nurse. I think he may need one in about a year. He will be 73 yrs old. Don't you see how much Bush has aged in 8 yrs. Mccain will not last to much longer.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:26 pm |
  28. Max in Phoenix, AZ

    This would be a fun trip. How do you get to this island? I'm assuming a boat or helicopter, since it appears to be too small for a plane. How long did it take you to get there from... i'm assuming Anchorage?

    September 30, 2008 at 5:26 pm |
  29. Judith

    The reason these people live there is t hat most of them are indiginous Alaskan Natives and have undoubtedly lived there for longer than we've been a nation! Not everyone is white, lives in a housing development and drives an SUV. These people live off t he land and will continue to do so long after sarah et al, are dust. Their needs are food, warmth and basics of life. No political climate. Win or lose, Dem or repub, these folks are just who they are. From a 24 year Alaskan.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:26 pm |
  30. sam

    The better ticket out there is Obama-McCain if we have to deal with the four nominees in their respective positions only. I disagree and agree with many of the political views of both Candidates. But I think at a time when truly Republicans and Democratics need to come together, we are being pulled apart by a soccer, i mean, hockey mom and her inability to speak without lying and a man bent on doing nothing but fight with character assassinations, that having nothing to with the policies and why we should choose him into presidency.

    Its amazing to think that anyone would think to put someone who clearly has no idea what life is like beyond hockey and God. No offense to the people who believe in Jesus, but I don't. And the fact is that I am not alone. So many don't. We have already had a President the last 8 yrs, who clearly cannot relate to the public of this country that is not Christian and white, that now we would have to put up with a twit that will once again bring Church and State closer.

    The President and Vice President of the United States are supposed to be the representatives of all the people under it's umbrella. But how can you be a representative if you are excluding over half of the population of your country by talking about God and other personal philosophies that do not apply to them.

    Palin is clearly not ready. And for those ready to vote b/c of the republican marriage laws and abortion gives that person no justice, b/c right now when we are dying as a country, does it really matter if you can marry as a homosexual or have an abortion. Frankly, my votes will go to the people i see fit to change the economy which affects my everyday life, rather than to curtail the lives of others I will probably never meet in my lifetime. People need to get their priorities in gear. It's b/c of the average ignorant American that we have allowed Bush to tear our financial world apart. Let's talk about instead how we can teach our children not to make the mistake of getting house they clearly cannot afford and being stupid enough to get themselves in to so much trouble, that i as taxpayer have to pay for them!!

    September 30, 2008 at 5:26 pm |
  31. Carlos Barrozo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    Brazil is the 10th GOP in the world, and a great partner os USA. I am sure Mrs. Palin does not know what language we speak here and what is the name of our capital city. But it is not her fault. I am also sure that the majority of the americans does not know too! I lived in the USA for 3 years and my friends always ask me if I was spanish speaking and if my capital was Buenos Aires. It is just a matter the the school system does not teach enough about other countries. The school is focus only over North American Geography and History.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  32. Catherine The Great

    "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”

    that part of vast Russian terrtory is so remote and unpopulated.. and so C-O-L-D!! I think Putin would rather "REAR HIS HEAD" somewhere else 🙂

    September 30, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  33. A.M. Deist Fort Walton Beach, FL

    Governor Palin has a high approval rating because oil is skyrocketing, the Alaska budget is increasing, taxes are almost non existent, and every man, woman and child in Alaska gets more than $2,000 a year because of the oil royalties. She should have a 99% approval rating. I can't think of any other State in the US that wouldn't have a great approval rating for a Governor that provides such benefits. The question isn't whether Governor Sarah Palin is ready to be president, but rather, does anyone in their right mind think that if the Obama-Biden ticket win in November that Governor Palin will be the Republican nominee in 2012. I think not!

    September 30, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  34. Maureen / Newman, California

    Boy, it's interesting to get a little insight into the mind of a McCain voter. Though I don't really think that all McCain voters support these twisted views as seen in this blog. At least, I hope not.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  35. Jeremy

    It's funny. The author criticizes Palin for not traveling to the island, but had she gone as governor, she would have been criticized for wasting tax dollars on such a frivolous trip.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  36. Neil

    Palin never said she was a foriegn policy expert. When asked what foriegn policy experience she had she mentioned the proximity of Alaska to Russia. Don't forget the border with Canada. And she never said that experience qualified her to be VP. You all have made that leap. So Palin said some goofy stuff. Biden asked a guy in a wheel chair to stand up. Biden talked about FDR going on TV during the market crash of '29. FDR wasn't president, and there was no TV. They are all saying things that make us groan, but that doesn't mean anything more than "we all say stupid things sometimes".

    I actually like all the candidates. They all bring something unique and valuable to the table.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  37. Reggie- Birmingham

    I am sick of all this. Obama is the media's choice ! I wonder why? Nobody even heard of him just a few years ago. He has never had a real job. It is a sponge, a pupet with too many strings.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  38. Jonathan

    Un-American? I am so freakin' tired of Americans calling other Americans "un-American" whenever they cannot agree on something. Most Americans seem to have lost their bearings entirely about politics - so it's all about identity, emotional attachment to one party or the other, or personal identification with one candidate or another, to the point where they can no longer separate themselves from their candidate and need to lash out at anyone who disagrees with them.

    It's really about the fact that we have all become a nation of selfish whiners who want instant gratification all the time. We want crazy entitlements, a huge military, and yet we don't want to pay the taxes necessary to pay for any of this stuff. It's the same mentality that makes people buy SUV's when they live in Manhattan because it makes them feel tough; buy McMansions that they can't afford because someone offered them a mortgage that was insane on its face; run up credit card bills they'll never be able to pay off to lead a lifestyle that is above their means; and start honking their car horns at you the minute a traffic light turns green as if they were actually waiting with their hand on the horn so that they could honk the minute the light changed.

    People in other countries - and I've lived in several of them - don't act this way in their politics. But since I have actual experience living abroad and actually know what I am talking about, I am sure that the people on this site who have never even left their state will call me un-American. I'll take that as a compliment if being "American" means being selfish, ignorant, uninformed, impolite, and uneducated like such a person obviously is.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  39. Bob Clark

    Hey Mike!
    If you are John McCain... Yes! You are qualified... much more than who he selected to run with him this election.


    September 30, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  40. Missouri Mom

    Well I have a globe and can see every nation on the planet. I can even find most of them on the globe pretty easily, I bet Sarah Palin can not say the same.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  41. Betty

    "It is better to be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt." I don't think Palin is not even qualified to be Governor. Based on what I have read, her husband spends a lot of time on the job calling the shots. Is this what the fisherman and snowboarder will do in the White House if McCain wins?

    September 30, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  42. Catherine The Great

    "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."

    Hey Dave,
    did you know that Alaska WAS a Russian territory and the Tzars sold it to America for a hatful of gold?? If they want it back, I guess they can just BUY it.. why invade?? But I doubt they will want it back.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  43. fred

    It's downright scary to listen to Palin speak in public. I think she is barely qfied to be a governor, but can hold her own up there, but VP, thats just scary. I completely don't get McCains choice here. Great comedy though. I'm looking forward to the next SNL. This almost beats the church lady of the 1980s skits.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
  44. dave

    All the Obama supporters that responded here are ignorant.
    They refuse to look beyond the slick image that Obama portrays. Obama has no substance, can not be trusted. He is not the change we need. He is a socialist that will sell his mother (if she were alive) for a vote.

    A vote for Obama is a vote to destroy America.


    September 30, 2008 at 5:13 pm |
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