Pick of Palin in Ohio by McCain Puts All Republican Eggs in One Ovary
By John Michael Spinelli
COLUMBUS, OHIO: Arizona Sen. John S. McCain chose Dayton, Ohio, to announce his selection Friday of Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin for his running mate on the Republican ticket, a choice his supporters will say underscores his status as a maverick who will shake up and reform Washington, while his critics will argue that her resume of accomplishments in government are thin and her ability to win over undecided Democratic women voters who some say remain reluctant to cast their vote for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is a still born strategy, given Sen. Clinton’s strong endorsement of and promise to campaign hard for the man who finished first in their grueling contest to retake the White House in November.
Palin Parades in Dayton
In a venue considerably smaller than Mile High stadium in Denver, the scene yesterday of Obama’s acceptance speech given to a crowd of 75,000 jubilant party members and others who came to witness the historic moment when of an African American accepting the nomination to run for president, John McCain, whose turned 72 today, strode to the podium in Dayton, a city hard hit by job losses during the Bush years, amid a chorus from the excited crowd of Happy Birthday, said he is “running for president to fight for you, to make government stand on your side, not in your way” and said Palin represents the kind of running mate who “will help him shake up Washington…” by returning “prosperity and peace” to the country.
“She’s has grit, integrity, a good sense and fierce devotion to the common good that we need in Washington today,” he said to thunderous applause. “She knows where she comes from and knows who she works for,” McCain said, adding that “she will stand up for what’s right and doesn’t let anyone to tell her to sit down.” With his wife Cindy standing by his side, McCain said Palin is “exactly who I need and who this country needs to help me fight the same old Washington politics of me first and country second.”
Palin entered the scene of the rally with her husband of 20 years by her side and four of their five children in tow. Prior to the start of the event in Dayton, media pundits were already sorting through her paper-thin resume, speculating whether as an virtual unknown pubic figure outside of Alaska she can really help McCain, and whether her conservative social credentials will make a dent in luring Hillary supporters to McCain, who among other election year promises says he will appoint judges to the Supreme Court who will overturn Roe v. Wade, the court ruling that allows women to have an abortion under certain circumstances.
Palin: Pros and Cons
Steve Heimel of Alaska Public Radio, speaking on CNN, said Palin has a reputation as a reformer, is “squeaky clean, a soccer mom” and presents an interesting choice by McCain. Heimel said Palin is currently under investigation, though, for what some say is an abuse of power involving the firing of an Alaska state trooper. He said she came into the public eye when she blew the whistle on a corrupt official, a move among others that helped her defeat a former governor of Alaska.
In a short speech that lauded praise on the top of her ticket as the kind of maverick the country needs, Palin said she never set out to be involved in public affairs, but her journey as a “hockey mom” involved first in the PTA and then as a member of city council, then mayor then governor was a natural progression for her agenda to “stop wasteful spending and cut property taxes and put people first.”
Her rise to prominence in Alaska, a state whose total population of about 670,000 is 25 percent less than the population of Metropolitan Dayton (835,000), where she was speaking from, came through her appointment as head of the state’s ethics commission, a perch she used to fight “fight corruption…and hold offenders to account.”
“As governor, I stood up to lobbyists, big oil and the good old boy network, “ she said, emphasizing what has become the default stance of McCain, that she has always put the interests of her state of the interests of herself or special interests. Her statement that she told Washington that if Alaska needed a “bridge to nowhere,” a now-famous poster child for unnecessary “pork-barrel spending” made possible by Alaska’s senior Sen. Ted Stevens, a Republican now facing trial for taking illegal campaign contributions, “we’d build it ourselves,” made the crowd erupt with applause. McCain has made his opposition to so-called “earmarks” or pork-barrel spending a popular part of political aura as a maverick who isn’t afraid to buck his own party on issues he feels deeply about, despite being contrary to party policy or preferences.
Before she concluded her remarks, Palin brought Ohio into her speech on one more occasion. She quoted its one of its most famous native sons, John Glenn, who was the first American to orbit Earth in xxx and who served as a senator and ran, though unsuccessfully, for president. She said Glenn said McCain “had gone through what others couldn’t have,” referencing his five plus years as a prisoner of war during the War in Vietnam.
She said she accepted McCain’s offer to run with him because it’s “the right reason is to challenge the status quo and serve the common good” and that McCain represents someone who will tackle “business as usual in Washington” because the moment has arrived when “principle and political independence matter more than party line” and John McCain has the “resolve, toughness and strength of heart” to be the president at this time. She vowed to not let McCain’s service in Vietnam and his ordeal as a prisoner of war be forgotten in this campaign. Adding to that thought, she said that while profiles in courage are hard to come by these days, “we will have one on the ballot.”
History will be made regardless of which team of candidates is elected in November. American will either have its first African American president or its first female vice president. Palin, with her hair up and wearing Buddy Holly style eyeglasses, made homage to two Democratic women – Geraldine Ferraro who ran unsuccessfully with Walter Mondale in 1984 against Ronald Reagan and his vice president, George H.W. Bush, the father of the current president, and Hillary Clinton, who news pundits said was the inevitable nominee even though they tried to cut her down at every turn, as she garnered over 18 million votes in her unsuccessful run to outlast Obama. Palin said her role on the Republican ticket can “shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.”
Will McCain’s Big Gamble Pay Off?
David Gergen, a one-time adviser to Republican presidents who did the same for Bill Clinton and who now chimes in as a commentator on various news networks, said picking Palin represents the biggest gamble he’s seen McCain take in long time. “You could have knocked me over with a feather with this one,” he exclaimed to one news network host. While the selection of Palin “may very well work,” Gergen wondered whether she can really fill the bill when it comes to McCain’s key issue of fighting the war on terror. German, who gave McCain credit for making the gamble, said, “but you can loose from gambling.” His point is well taken that if your main argument against your opponent is that he doesn’t have any foreign credentials and isn’t ready to lead, why would you pick a running mate who is open to the same criticisms?
In the context of Ohio, where Hillary Clinton bested Obama with the help of Ohio’s Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, can she help McCain win the Buckeye State and its 20 important Electoral College votes? Gergen says, probably not. He did say that picking Palin will carry well with social conservatives, anti-abortion groups and Christian groups, all of which have played important roles in previous elections in Ohio, but who may not hold the same winning hand this year, as economic, not social issues, are upper most in Ohio minds.
Even though the pick of Palin may shake things up for a week or so, her choice, according to supporters of Obama, effectively removes McCain’s primary argument against him, that his experience is limited. McCain, they say, must now make the tough argument that she’s qualified and ready to lead. Obama campaign staffers will counter that judgment is still the trump card, and McCain, who has voted with President Bush 95 percent of the time, has been around Washington for decades with little to show for it in light of the rising tide of home foreclosures, lack of health insurance and declining wages, can’t match Obama’s early and full-throated opposition to invading Iraq, a decision McCain claims was necessary.
Even though it’s still summer in Ohio, Gergen said Palin’s personality has to make up for her thin resume. “What are we doing and is there where we want to go?” was the rhetorical question Gergen asked Republicans to answer. “Lots of weight is riding on her,” he said.
Campaigns Exchange Media Volleys
The Obama campaign dipped its toe into McCain’s pick of Palin, saying she has the “thinnest foreign policy in history” and that picking its curious that McCain would be “picking someone under investigation in her own state.”
Republicans are countering that Palin has more “executive experience” than Obama. Obama’s running mate, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, has already been categorized as the Democratic attack dog for this election. But that role could be hazardous given that a man can’t be seen as bullying a women, a lesson learned from the race for Senator in New York between Hillary Clinton and her Republican opponent, Rick Lazio, who was flogged for beating up on her in a debate. Biden must walk a fine line in their debate of making his points without being perceived as being a bully to her, the mother of five children, one of which has Down syndrome.
Ohio Polling Data Shows Race Tight
The trouble ahead for McCain, Palin and Republicans is that Obama and Biden have coalesced party supporters around them. The national polling firm Rasmussen reports Thursday that 74 percent of Democrats say their convention has unified them. In a national poll, Rasmussen found that fifty-nine percent (59%) also believe that Hillary Clinton’s speech Tuesday night endorsing Obama helps the candidate’s chances of being elected president. More importantly, it said, after weeks of media reports about division in the party between the Clinton and Obama forces, 84% of Democrats say Clinton’s speech helps Obama.
In a Friday presidential tracking poll, Rasmussen shows Barack Obama attracting 46 percent of the vote nationwide while John McCain earns 43 percent. But when "leaners" are included, the report shows Obama expands his lead over McCain (49% to 45%).
The mountain McCain and Palin have to climb in states like Ohio, where women pushed Clinton to victory in March, is that 64 percent of Democratic women now believe Clinton wants Obama to be elected president, versus 19 percent who do not think that is the case. Prior to the speech, only 47 percent of Democratic women thought Clinton wanted Obama to win, Rasmussen reported.
Focusing on Ohio, Rasmussen, as of Wednesday of this week, reports that McCain still leads Obama by a thin margin (45% to 41%) and that while the two split the unaffiliated vote (independents), McCain wins more crossover votes (15% of Democrats say they’ll vote for McCain while only 7% say they’ll vote for Obama).
But according to the Rasmussen Markets data, Obama is given a 52 percent chance of carrying Ohio this year. Ohio, which still remains a big battle ground state, is listed as a “Toss-up” state. Ohioans, who gave Bush a second term as president, now say, by 48 percent, that he is doing a poor job. For McCain, who has allied himself with Bush policies, including the invasion of Iraq, this will come back to haunt him in Ohio. Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said earlier in the year that he expects the race in Ohio to again be close, but that Democrats will win by a margin of 250,000 votes or less.
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