August 29, 2008


McCain Chooses Palin as Running Mate (MICHAEL COOPER and MITCHELL L. BLUMENTHAL, 8/30/08, NY Times)

In a surprise move, Senator John McCain announced here Friday that he had chosen Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate, shaking up the political world at a time when his campaign has been trying to attract women, especially disaffected supporters of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“I’m very happy today to spend my birthday with you, and to make a historic announcement in Dayton,” said Mr. McCain, who turned 72 on Friday, explaining that he had been looking for the running mate who can “best help me shake up Washington.”

In choosing Ms. Palin — a 44-year-old social conservative and mother of five who has been governor for less than two years — the McCain campaign reached far outside the Washington Beltway during an election in which the Democratic presidential nominee, Senator Barack, is running on a platform of change.

If he learns nothing else from W, let's hope it's this: always throw the deep ball.

This isn't just a great call in terms of the appeal to disaffected women voters and the pro-life movement but the contrast to Joe Biden at the VP debate will be devastating. The contrast of the cool young executive to the hot-headed Beltway hack is delicious.

Democrats appear to have settled on two lines of attack: (1) she's too inexperienced--that'll go over well with women who were told experience didn't matter when it was Obama vs. Hillary; and (2) she's not well known--based on the mistaken belief that because everyone inside the Beltway knew Joe Biden he was a national figure.

And Along Came Palin (David N. Bass, 8/29/2008, American Spectator)

[W]hile media pundits write the evangelical movement's obituary, political reality shows that the Christian right is far from dead, and that social issues are and will remain a major component of conservative governance.

The proof: John McCain's announcement on Friday that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will be his running mate. The news came after weeks of GOP insiders floating names like Joe Lieberman and Tom Ridge as potentials to fill out the ticket. Instead of these pro-abortion alternatives, McCain picked a reliable pro-lifer.

It was a calculated blow against Obama, who has been courting evangelicals for months in hopes of carving off a few votes for himself. The Christian right, in general, hasn't trusted McCain. The choice of Palin assuages some of that concern. It also might pry away some disgruntled women who had supported Hillary — an unmistakable jab on McCain's part considering Obama has been vying to swipe a few evangelical voters.

Some will argue that Palin's pro-life views don't matter because, if elected, her post as vice president would have little policy-making power. That would be true with an ordinary candidate on the ticket's top slot, but the likelihood of McCain seeking a second term at the age of 76 is slight. If McCain wins, his veep pick would be the presumptive Republican nominee in 2012 and the standard-bearer for the party.

The choice of Palin is also evidence that McCain needs to give more than lip service to evangelical voters. That's smart, because, effectively mobilized, they have the power to give him the presidency. And the reality is that social issues are high on the hierarchy of importance for a good portion of the American electorate.

The headlines over the last two weeks prove it. Even leading up to the Democrat's convention, the Obama campaign had to play defense on the issue evangelicals care about most, and one of the defining social issues of our time: abortion.

Obama's bungling of the question of when human life begins at Rick Warren's forum on August 16 was the start.

-Sarah Palin a risky VP choice for John McCain: She should appeal to conservatives and to women. But she's light on experience - the same criticism McCain has leveled at Barack Obama. And her unfamiliarity could haunt the GOP campaign. (Michael Finnegan, 8/29/08, Los Angeles Times)
John McCain's choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate poses high risks for the Republican presidential hopeful.

She carries potential to strengthen his tepid support among conservatives. Republicans hope that Palin might also help McCain broaden his appeal to women, including a portion of those who voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

But McCain's gamble on Palin threatens to undercut one of his key arguments against Obama, namely that the first-term senator from Illinois is too inexperienced to be commander in chief. Palin has been governor of Alaska, one of the nation's least populated states, for less than two years. Before that, she was mayor of Wasilla, a town with fewer than 9,000 residents.

Here's the revealing thing: if he picked her when she was mayor she'd still have had more executive experience than the entire Democrat ticket.

How Palin Came to the Top of the List (Jan Crawford Greenburg, 8/29/08, ABC News: Political Radar)

It wasn't until Sunday night that John McCain, after meeting with his four top advisers, finally decided he could not tap independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut to be his running mate. One adviser, tasked with taking the temperature of the conservative base, had strongly made the case to McCain that it would be a disaster for the party and that the base would revolt. McCain concluded he could not go that route.

The next day, McCain studied the three men at the top of his shortlist: Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge. All had different strengths and negatives, but McCain was not satisfied. None of them had what McCain believed he needed to do -- and would have done -- with Lieberman.

McCain wanted to shake up the ticket.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's name was in the mix as an unconventional choice for months, but she had not been considered a front-runner. So, over the next few days, with McCain continuing to believe he needed someone who had more of a maverick streak than his other choices, lawyers reviewed her vetting information. They kept their activities from even some in McCain's most senior inner circle.

The story behind the Palin surprise (JONATHAN MARTIN | 8/29/08, Politico)
John McCain today announced a running mate whom he met only six months ago and whom he spoke with just once on the phone about the position before offering it in person earlier this week.

McCain’s first encounter with Sarah Palin came at a Washington meeting of the National Governors Association in February, according to a campaign-provided reconstruction of how the little-known Alaska governor was thrust into the national spotlight. The two discussed the position by phone on Sunday before McCain invited her and her husband to Arizona to formally make the offer. McCain, joined by his wife, Cindy, did just that yesterday morning at their home near Sedona, Ariz.

By picking somebody he and most Americans barely know — an out-of-the-blue decision that sent shock waves of disbelief through the political world and still has jaws agape — McCain has taken a considerable gamble. [...]

Palin, say some GOP strategists, brings considerable strengths to the ticket: She’s from just about as far from the Beltway as possible, ran and won as a reformer in a state that was aching for one, is acceptable to the party’s right wing, and has a fascinating-yet-familiar life story of success and achievement that embodies the American Dream.

“It reinforces in real time McCain’s greatest brand: reform,” said Mary Matalin. “And it epitomizes ‘shares your values.’”

“I feel a tingle up my spine,” she crowed, praising the McCain campaign’s secret-keeping and boffo execution here today.

And then there are Palin’s two most visible traits.

“We’re a party that desperately needs women and desperately needs young people,” noted Ed Rollins, a longtime Republican consultant. And the 44-year-old Palin brings both of those qualities.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 29, 2008 2:13 PM
blog comments powered by Disqus