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2012 preview? Obama, Palin trade insults on nuclear policy

NEW ORLEANS — President Barack Obama and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin traded barbs over nuclear policy Friday, with each mocking the other's experience in an early look at what a 2012 presidential campaign might look like.

The long-distance exchange centered on Obama's new nuclear defense strategy ruling out the use of nuclear weapons in retaliation against some nations in the event of a biological, chemical or cyber attack.

"It's unbelievable. Unbelievable," Palin said Wednesday after Obama rolled out the new strategy.

"It's kinda like getting out there on a playground, a bunch of kids, getting ready to fight, and one of the kids saying, 'Go ahead, punch me in the face and I'm not going to retaliate. Go ahead and do what you want to with me,'" Palin said.

Obama's policy would rule out nuclear counterattack against conventional weapon attacks, but would reserves the right of conventional weapon counter attack against any foe as well as nuclear attack against some countries such as Iran that do not sign nuclear non-proliferation agreements.

Obama dismissed Palin's criticism Friday morning.

"Last I checked, Sarah Palin's not much of an expert on nuclear issues," he said in an interview with ABC that aired Friday.

"If the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff are comfortable with it, I'm probably going to take my advice from them and not from Sarah Palin."

The former Alaska governor struck back at the president later Friday, mocking the "vast nuclear experience that he acquired as a community organizer."

Palin, who has said she might run for the Republican nomination to oppose Obama in 2012, made the comment during an appearance at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans.

She also urged Republicans anew to "reload" in their campaign to win control of Congress this fall, but stressed that she was not calling for violence.

"Don't retreat, reload. And that is not a call to violence," she said.

"That of course means taking opportunities to engage, and debate and to vote . . . it's not a call for violence. Noone is calling for such a thing. The media is so desperate to discredit the tea party movement, that they'll make that up. But nobody is calling for violence."

Palin spent much of her speech on energy, lambasting Obama's decision to allow some oil drilling off the coast of Virginia while keeping most offshore sites off limits pending further study.

"Let's send the White house this message," she said, "save money..there is oil and gas down there . . . we don't need more studies."

She urged opening offshore sites to oil and gas drilling and then giving some of the proceeds to the states.

"The Outer Continental Shelf must be open for development," she said, "with revenue sharing for the states."

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