Republican presidential candidate John McCain has just announced first-term Alaskan governer Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate. The 44 year-old mother of five is relatively unknown in political circles and Macca surprised basically the entire pundit population and the online betting community with his choice. One commentator on CNBC nearly forgot to breathe between splutters as he described the decision as “utter madness”.
I think it represents an attempt to capture female voters who backed Hillary and are keen to see a woman in the Oval Office. The Democratic Convention is generally being judged to have done well at swinging disaffected Clinton backers behind Obama.
McCain also may have reasoned that VP picks seem rarely to have made a huge difference. Typically running mates chosen to deliver a home state that usually votes for the other party have failed to do so. What this choice will do is generate media attention and coming the day after Obama’s big speech and in the lead up to his own coronation, McCain certainly needs to grab some column inches.
Expect unprepared journalists to start playing catch-up with bios of Palin and whatever dirt there is on her (real or imagined, objective or subjective) to start flying over the weekend.
Palin is strongly pro-life, hunts and fishes, has a child going on a tour of duty in Iraq and is a former Miss Alaska runner-up who studied journalism in college and has been a sports reporter, mayor of Wasilla and (since 2006) governer of Alaska.
I’ll bet her stance on abortion will attract Democratic comment. It will be highlighted to wavering Hillaryites as trumping gender, being a bigger objection to their general viewpoint than Palin’s being a woman is a recommendation.