Did Sarah Palin Really Say “I Can See Russia from My House”?


Sarah Palin never said “I can see Russia from my house.” Tina Fey did, in a hilarious skit on Saturday Night Live. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, on the other hand, said something a little bit different from which the Tina Fey line derived.

When Palin was introduced as the running mate to Arizona Senator John McCain at the Republican National Convention in the late summer of 2008, her rousing speech and star power gave a boost to his campaign for the Presidency of the United States.

On the campaign trail, one of her duties as a Vice Presidential candidate was to sit down with journalists to demonstrate her expertise in both domestic and foreign policy. During one such interview in September of 2008, ABC’s Charlie Gibson posed this question: “What insight into Russian actions, particularly during the last couple of weeks, does the proximity of this state give you?”

To which she gave an earnest, but widely ridiculed, response: “They’re our next-door neighbors. And you can actually see Russia, from land, here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.”

Subsequent investigations demonstrated that Russia is visible from an Alaskan island, Little Diomede, that sits in the center of the Bering Sea, well north of the Aleutian Islands. Of course, later reports said that Palin had never visited the place, but her answer was technically correct, albeit demonstrating the time honored political practice of saying words that loosely are associated with a posed question, but not actually answering it.

Her quote was seized upon, and the SNL parody came just days later. Desperate to rehabilitate her image as someone competent in American foreign policy, she gave an interview to Katie Couric at the end of September:

Couric: “You’ve cited Alaska’s proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?”

Palin:  “That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia…”

Couric: “Well, explain to me why that enhances your foreign-policy credentials?”

Palin: “Well, it certainly does, because our, our next-door neighbors are foreign countries, there in the state that I am the executive of . . . . It’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send out those to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia…”

Despite this rocky start, Governor Palin rebounded, and her performance during the Vice Presidential debate was widely commended. Nonetheless, the Republicans lost that year to the juggernaut of President Obama’s “Yes We Can!”

Nearly six years later, as Russia invaded and annexed Ukraine’s autonomous republic, Crimea, Palin felt vindicated: “I could see this one from Alaska. I’m usually not one to Told-Ya-So, but I did . . . . Anyone who carries the common sense gene would know that Putin doesn’t change his stripes…”

The “common sense gene” comment aside, in this case, she was not only referencing her “see Russia… from and island in Alaska” comment, but also a statement she made in 2008, “After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Sen. Obama’s reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia’s (Vladimir) Putin to invade Ukraine next.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Bonus Facts:

  • Governor Palin’s outspoken style has created a legacy of other memorable quotes as well. Some favorites include “I’m the mayor, I can do whatever I want until the courts tell me I can’t,” “If God had not wanted us to eat animals, how come He made them out of meat?” and “I’m not one to be a word police.
  • The Democratic Vice Presidential candidate during the 2008 campaign, now Vice President Joe Biden, has also been a lightning rod for comedians. The VPOTUS is famous for his gaffes, including telling President Obama near a live microphone at the White House signing ceremony for Obamacare that passing nearly universal health care in America was “a big fucking deal.”
  • Building on this reputation, and Biden’s big, gregarious personality, The Onion has developed a running series of parodies of the Vice President, sometimes referring to him as ‘Diamond’ Joe Biden. Classic articles include “Biden Frantically Hitting Up Cabinet Members for Clean Piss” and “Nude Biden Wakes Up On a Cold Slab in D.C. Morgue,” the latter in which he is claimed to have said “You gotta be fucking kidding me . . . . Not again.”
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  • “albeit demonstrating the time honored political practice of saying words that loosely are associated with a posed question, but not actually answering it.”

    LOL spot on!

  • No, she actually DID say it. And this is actually her, not a “skit”. Sorry. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGSJCDw3ZBw

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Paul Steward: You might want to read the articles you comment on.

      • Even given that Palin didn’t say what Tina Fey said in the skit, Palin’s response to the question, at best, is worthy of a beauty contest answer. Tina Fey’s rendition, though factually inaccurate, captures the inane character of Palin’s response.

        • Almost as inane as Obama’s response about his plan for getting out of Iraq, inaccurately believing (or suggesting) the Joint Chiefs have operational control of the military.

  • Um.. I listened to the clip that you referenced and Palin’s exact words were,”You can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska.” Nothing about, “I can see Russia from my house. The fact is, Little Diomede Island, Alaska, is about 2.4 miles from Big Diomede Island, Russia, which is easily visible from Little Diomede.

    • How can anyone defend her? Honest to god, she claimed that proximity gives her some mystical insight into Russian political, military and economical history and an understanding of current events necessary to negotiate and confront this sometimes dangerous adversary, sometimes ally. By her logic, anyone who ever merely set foot in Alaska could effectively negotiate for The United States at the next G20 summit.

      What she said or didn’t say, exactly, is pedantic. What she’s trying to sell is pathetic. Why study international political science at Georgetown, when you could just go camping on Little Diomede? Bring your binoculars so you can really see what Putin is up to.

      • Well, since you are all about perfection, maybe if you want to be “honest to god” and have anyone take you seriously, you would capitalize the G as it is a proper name. But hey, you are Mr. Smarter-Than-Everyone-Else like any typical libtard, so you knew that, right, Genius?
        Go blow Bernie, ok?

        • The Average Libtard

          God doesn’t have to be capitalized. Monotheism and polytheism are a thing; you know that, right? What astounds me is how this defense of Palin seems to be less objective and more biased towards conservatism. During the ’08 election, both conservatives and liberals seem to wholeheartedly agree that Palin was a complete failure as a vice presidential candidate. Appearing “folksy” and saying “you betcha” all the time may seem charming at first, but she would absolutely fail at enforcing policy.

          Sounds like a very prominent presidential candidate today, does it not?

      • Enough said!! Lol Some people can’t handle the truth!

      • It’s been 8 years, and millions of liberals are STILL claiming it’s irrelevant that a profoundly unqualified and dreadfully incompetent president was voted in by tens of millions of idiots who were unable to distinguish between actual news and SNL. Or the late Daily Show, for that matter, which millions of millennials sited as their most trusted news source.

  • Enough said. This woman is dangerously ignorant. Some people can’t handle the truth!

    Her ” stump with trump” speech was ridiculous; send all of our loved ones over there to kick isis asses as she put it. Well then let’s see if she’ll send hers and trump’s son over there to fight. Her son is already beating up on women, let him go best up on isis .See how that will turn out! Her son is off the chain because he has no real foundation from decent parenting.