John McCain defended his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), from criticism by comparing her to the last small-state governor to reach the Oval Office, Bill Clinton.

McCain was asked about Palin on ABC on Friday, a day after his foreign policy adviser, former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, said that she wasn't yet ready to become commander-in-chief.

McCain said that Palin had the "qualifications of leadership."

"And I would remind you again there was an obscure governor of a small state called Arkansas that everybody said wasn't qualified," he added, referring to Clinton. "Well, I didn't vote for him, but he got elected and reelected."

Clinton won the White House in 1992 as the governor of Arkansas.

McCain noted that Palin is one of the most popular governors in the country and that she has executive experience that neither Barack Obama nor Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) have.

Press accounts this week have said suggested that Palin has already set her sights on the 2012 presidential race.

Asked whether Palin is the future face of the Republican Party, McCain said: "I think, to a large degree, as vice president or -- or -- I think there's no doubt that -- because she has united our party in a large degree. And she's, in many ways, an inspirational figure. So... but I know that Sarah is out there working 24-7 for our election."

Interestingly, McCain noticeably stumbles in his response when talking about whether Palin could become something other than vice president.

See the video of the response below (courtesy of Townhall's Matt Lewis).