WASHINGTON – Senator McCain's running mate in the US presidential election, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, met with the board of directors of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Wednesday and expressed her admiration for Israel. The meeting took place inside Palin's hotel, sources said.
A campaign official would not say who asked for the meeting, but said it was geared towards putting the American Jewish community at ease over her understanding of US-Middle East relations.
"That's obviously going to be an issue," the aide said. "It's not like being the senator from New York, obviously. But these aren't issues that are off her radar."
Palin, joined by Sen. Joe Lieberman, expressed her "heartfelt support for Israel" and spoke of the threats it faces from Iran and others, the campaign official said. She also claimed to have planned a visit to the country in November of 2007, but had to cancel when she was pregnant.
AIPAC spokesman Josh Block was pleased with the meeting. "We had a good productive discussion on the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship, we were pleased that Gov. Palin expressed her deep, personal, and lifelong commitment to the safety and well-being of Israel," he said.
"Like Sen. McCain, the vice presidential nominee understands and believes in the special friendship between the two democracies and would work to expand and deepen the strategic partnership in a McCain/Palin Administration."
Palin has previously met with Israeli Foreign Ministry official David Akov, who served as Israel's Consul General for the Pacific Northwest Region. During the meeting the two discussed cooperation between Israel and Alaska on various issues, such as counter-terrorism efforts.
Akov invited Palin to visit Israel and the governor expressed her desire to do so. She also reportedly told Akov that Alaska's residents love Israel.