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Obama campaign mum on Palin interview

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  • NEW: Democratic strategist says Barack Obama shouldn't weigh in on Sarah Palin
  • ABC News releases excerpts of interview with VP candidate Palin
  • Palin says she backs NATO expansion, says new Cold War unnecessary
  • Palin says she is confident she could handle the duties of president if necessary

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(CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama's campaign has remained mum on Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's interview on ABC News, and one Democratic strategist said that's a good thing.

"I think Democrats have to resist the temptation of kind of poking at this hornet's nest," Democratic strategist Julian Epstein said on CNN's "American Morning."

"I think the media need to be able to go after her and ask these questions about her readiness, but Democrats need to move on, refocus this campaign again on [Sen. John] McCain and refocus on the question of change."

CNN contributor and Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez said the media is "trying to make a lot of hoopla out of this very important interview." Video Watch analysts weigh in on Palin's interview »

"I think she did well, as well as could be expected. There was a lot of pressure, a lot of eyeballs on her. ... She showed strength and leadership, and I think fundamentally people were waiting for a 'gotcha' moment that didn't happen."

Sanchez said that Palin is affecting Obama's campaign.

"Maybe it gets him off the rhythm, but I think there's so much intense focus in downplaying the candidacy and the viability of the Republican ticket. I think that's the scrutiny there, and it's not fair or legitimate."

On Thursday, Palin told ABC's Charlie Gibson that NATO should extend membership to two former Soviet republics and that any Russian invasion of a NATO state could lead to a conflict with the U.S.

However, the United States and Russia "cannot repeat the Cold War," the Alaska governor said in her first interview since becoming Sen. John McCain's running mate.

ABC released excerpts of Palin's interview with the "World News Tonight" anchor on Thursday. The full interview is scheduled to air on ABC's "20/20" at 10 p.m. ET Friday.

Palin said she supported NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia, a move Russia strongly opposes. She also said the United States must be vigilant about larger powers invading small democracies. Video Watch Palin say war may be necessary »

The interview comes a little more than a month after Russian troops invaded Georgia in support of separatist governments in two Georgian territories -- a step that led to widespread condemnation from the West and a tit-for-tat freeze in Russia-NATO ties.

"We have got to show the support, in this case, for Georgia. The support that we can show is economic sanctions perhaps against Russia, if this is what it leads to," she said.

"It doesn't have to lead to war and it doesn't have to lead, as I said, to a Cold War," Palin said, "but economic sanctions, diplomatic pressure, again, counting on our allies to help us do that in this mission of keeping our eye on Russia and [Russian Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin and some of his desire to control and to control much more than smaller democratic countries."

When Gibson pointed out that NATO membership would require the U.S. to come to Georgia's aid in case of war, Palin said, "Perhaps so."

She said, "I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you're going to be expected to be called upon and help."

Palin said Putin's goal is "to control energy supplies" coming from or through Russia.

"That's a dangerous position for our world to be in, if we were to allow that to happen," she said.

Critics have questioned Palin's experience since McCain chose her as his running mate August 29. She has been governor of Alaska for less than two years and was mayor of her hometown of Wasilla, outside Anchorage, for six.

But Palin said she "didn't blink" when McCain offered her the GOP vice presidential nomination and is confident she could handle the duties of president if necessary.

"When John McCain and I are sworn in, if we are so privileged to be elected to serve this country, we'll be ready. I'm ready," Palin said.

Palin has touted herself as a small-town "hockey mom" who has taken on corruption in her own party at home and pushed for expanding oil and gas production in her vast, resource-rich state.

But her claim to have opposed the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska has been called into question, and she faces an investigation into allegations that she abused her office by trying to get her former brother-in-law fired from the Alaska State Troopers.

Palin has denied wrongdoing in the matter.

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Palin, 44, is the mother of five children. Her oldest, 19-year-old Track, is an Army private who is about to ship out to Iraq.

She said she is "so proud" of her son for his "independent and strong decision" to join the military -- "serving for the right reasons and serving something greater than himself and not choosing a real easy path where he could be more comfortable and certainly safer."

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