Editor's note: Fareed Zakaria is a foreign affairs analyst who hosts "Fareed Zakaria: GPS" on CNN at 1 p.m. ET Sundays.
NEW YORK (CNN) -- In a column appearing in Newsweek, world affairs expert and author Fareed Zakaria said he thinks it would be best for Republican presidential hopeful John McCain if Gov. Sarah Palin bowed out as his vice presidential running mate.
"For him to choose Sarah Palin to be his running mate is fundamentally irresponsible," says Zakaria.
Zakaria says McCain did not put the country first in making his V.P. choice, and he says Palin is not qualified to lead the United States.
CNN spoke to him about his commentary titled, "Palin is ready? Please."
CNN: What did you initially think when Sarah Palin was announced as the Republican vice presidential nominee?
Zakaria: I was a bit surprised -- as I think most people were. But I was willing to give her a chance. And I thought her speech at the convention was clever and funny. But once she began answering questions about economics and foreign policy, it became clear that she has simply never thought about these subjects before and is dangerously ignorant and unprepared for the job of vice president, let alone president. Watch Zakaria slam Sarah Palin »
CNN: You don't think she is qualified?
Zakaria: No. Gov. Palin has been given a set of talking points by campaign advisers, simple ideological mantras that she repeats and repeats as long as she can. But if forced off those rehearsed lines, what she has to say is often, quite frankly -- nonsense. Just listen to her response to Katie Couric's question about the bailout. It's gibberish -- an emptying out of catchphrases about economics that have nothing to do with the question or the topic. It's scary to think that this person could be running the country.
Here is their exchange:
Katie Couric: Why isn't it better, Gov. Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries; allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?
Gov. Sarah Palin: That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, we're ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the -- it's got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we've got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.
CNN: But Dan Quayle wasn't very qualified and that didn't seem to matter, did it?
Zakaria: This is way beyond Dan Quayle. Quayle was a lightweight who was prone to scramble his words, or say things that sounded weird, but you almost always knew what he meant. One of his most famous miscues was to the United Negro College Fund when he said, "What a terrible thing to have lost one's mind. Or not to have a mind at all." Now he was trying to play off a famous ad that the group used to run, "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste." And he screwed it up in a funny way. But read Gov. Palin's answers and it does appear that she doesn't have any understanding about the topic under discussion.
CNN: But she has a lot of supporters.
Zakaria: Look, I'm not saying that she is not a feisty, charismatic politician who has done some good things in Alaska. It is just we are talking about a person who should be ready to lead the United States at a moment's notice. She has never spent a day thinking about any important national or international issue, and this is a hell of a time to start.
CNN: Does it make you concerned about Sen. McCain as a president?
Zakaria: Yes, and I say this with sadness because I greatly admire John McCain, a man of intelligence, honor and enormous personal and political courage. However, for him to choose Sara Palin to be his running mate is fundamentally irresponsible. He did not put the country first with this decision. Whether it is appropriate or not, considering Sen. McCain's age most people expected to have a vice presidential candidate who would be ready to step in at a moment's notice. The actuarial odds of that happening are significant, something like a one-in-five chance.
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