At a rally today at a basketball arena in Dayton, OH, John McCain unveiled AK Gov. Sarah Palin (R) as his pick for VP.
Speaking to the crowd of close to 10K supporters, McCain said: : "I have spent the last few months looking for a running mate who can best help me shake up Washington and make it start working again for the people that are counting on us. As I'm sure you know, I had many good people to choose from. ... I am very grateful to all of them and honored by their willingness to serve with me. "
More: IIt is with great pride and gratitude that I have found the right partner ... I found someone with an outstanding reputation for standing up to special interests ... and corruption. ... Someone with executive experience ... someone who reached across the aisle and asked to serve in government. Someone with strong principles, a fighting spirit and deep compassion. ... I am especially proud, to say in the week we celebrate the anniversary of women's suffrage, a devoted wife and a mother of five, she's not from these parts and she's not from Washington. When you get to know her, you're going to be as impressed as I am.
More McCain: "She knows where she comes from and she knows who she works for. ... She's exactly who I need, she's exactly who this country needs, to help me fight the same old Washington politics of 'me first, and country second.' My friends and fellow Americans, I am very pleased and very privileged to introduce to you, the next vice president of the United States, Governor Sarah Palin of the great state of Alaska" (Hotline viewing, 8/29).
Palin: "Thank you so much. I thank you, Seantor McCain and Mrs. McCain, for the confidence you have shown in me. Senator, I am honored to be chosen as your running mate. I will be honored to serve next to the next president of the United States. ... To have been chosen brings a great challenge. I know that it will demand the best that I have to give, and I promise nothing less. ... I know it will demand the best I have to give, and I promise nothing less. I promised Todd a little anniversary present, and hopefully, he knows I did deliver."
Palin continued: "As governor, I've stood up to the old politics as usual. To the special interests, to the lobbyists, to the oil companies ... When oil and gas prices went up so dramatically ... I sent a large share of that revenue back to the people of Alaska. ... I signed major ethics reforms, and I appointed both Democrats and independents to serve in my administration. ... [And] I told Congress, thanks, but no thanks, on that 'Bridge to Nowhere.' ... It's always safer in politics to avoid risk. ... But I didn't get into government to do the safe and easy things. ... Politics isn't just a game of competing interests and clashing parties. The people of America expect us to seek public office and serve for the right reasons. And the right reason is to challenge the status quo and to serve the common good. No one expects us to agree on everything, but we are expected to govern with integrity and good will, and clear convictions. ... No leader in America has shown these qualities so clearly, or as big a threat to business as usual in Washington as Senator John S. McCain. This is a moment when principles and political independence matters. ... This is a man who has always been there to serve his country, not just his party. And this is a moment that requires resolve and toughness, and strength of heart in the American president" (Hotline reporting, 8/29).
How The Story Broke
CNBC's Hardwood reports, Palin is McCain's "choice for Vice President" (8/29).
Chicago Tribune's Zuckman reports, A GOP source "confirms" that McCain has chosen Palin "to be his running mate." Palin is the first woman gov. of AK, elected in '06. She was also "the youngest ever elected at the age of 42. She is the mother of five children, the youngest of whom was born in April and has Down's Syndrome." She ran on a clean gov't platform in '06 to defeat the incumbent GOP Gov. Frank Murkowski"(8/29).
Los Angeles Times' Malcolm writes, "The 44-year-old Palin, a former city councilwoman, Alaskan mayor, star high school basketball player and beauty queen, is a Republican political maverick (does this sound familiar on a McCain ticket?). She overthrew her own state party's corrupt establishment in 2005-06 to run without its support and win on a reform ticket against" ex-AK Gov. Tony Knowles (D) ("Top Of The Ticket, 8/29).
Palin "made her name in part by backing tough ethical standards for politicians. During the first legislative session after her election," her admin. passed a state ethics law overhaul" (King/Bash, "Political Ticker," CNN, 8/29). More CNN: Palin's "not the first woman to appear on a major ticket." In '84, ex-Dem nominee/ex-VP Walter Mondale chose ex-Rep. Geraldine Ferraro for his VP. ... The last major party VP nominee with less than two years of experience in statewide or federal office was Spiro Agnew" in '68 (8/29).
WashingtonPost.com's Cillizza writes, in choosing Palin, "McCain also doubles down on the maverick argument; Palin is the face of reform" in the GOP nationally and is clearly not of DC -- "a key element of her biography given how negative voter sentiment toward the nation's capital is currently" ("The Fix," 8/29).
The Game Plan
After the McCain-Palin "rally at the Wright State University basketball arena," the duo will "then take a bus tour en route to Pittsburgh" and rally at a ballpark 8/30 p.m. in Washington, Pa., about 30 miles south of Pittsburgh (Jackson, USA Today, 8/29).
Happy Birthday, Mister President
Today is McCain's 72nd birthday (various).
The Finer Details
Asked about her chances of being McCain's VP pick two weeks ago, Palin (R) said: "I just think that's so far out of the realm of possibility. I think, OK, I'm a hockey mom from Alaska and I'm very passionate about the need for our nation to become energy independent, and for our nation to become more secure, and that's going to be based on domestic supplies of energy being tapped" (Toeplitz, Roll Call, 8/15). As it turns, she was just being modest. Here are three things to know about Palin.
•Palin is currently under investigation for firing AK ex-Public Safety Commis. Walt Monegan, who said that he felt pressured by the gov.'s office to fire Palin's ex-brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, "a trooper who had been locked in a child-custody battle with Palin's sister." Palin denies she pressured Monegan to fire Wooten. However, Palin aide Frank Bailey, was recently placed on paid administrative leave after it was learned he'd made several calls to Wooten's boss, trooper Lt. Rodney Dial.
Palin played a recorded copy of one of the calls to the press on 8/13. In it, Bailey "clearly pressures the lieutenant." Bailey "told him during the conversation that Palin and her husband want to know why Wooten still has a job." Bailey: "Todd and Sarah are scratching their heads, 'Why on earth hasn't this, why is this guy still representing the department?' He's a horrible recruiting tool, you know" (Cockerham, Anchorage Daily News, 8/14).
•During Palin's first term in office, she has made headlines for tacking AK's high energy costs -- experience she could address on the trail. On 8/25, Palin signed a bill that will pay each qualified AKer a $1.2K "resource rebate," set to come from the state's multibillion-dollar oil revenue surplus. The same bill includes $60M for the states "home weatherization program," which gives residents a tax credit for money spent improving their homes' energy efficiency. She also supports expanded oil drilling in AK (Loy, Anchorage Daily News, 8/26).
•She has a large family. During a RGA Governors Energy Forum in TX 4/17, Palin went into labor. She gave birth to her fifth child, Trig Paxson Van Palin 4/18. Shortly thereafter, Trig was diagnosed with having Down syndrome. Despite that difficult news, Palin said at the time "he's absolutely perfect." The Palins' brood includes four other children -- son Track, 18, and daughters Bristol, 17, Willow, 13 and Piper, 7 (Demer, Anchorage Daily News, 4/22).
They Really Like Her
A flurry of releases about Palin were issued this a.m. Here's a sampling:
Susan B. Anthony List Pres. Marjorie Dannenfelser: "Sarah Palin is the whole package. There couldn't be a better vice presidential pick. Women voters are electrified, and Sarah is someone who is truly in sync with the way real American women think. She is a reform-minded woman who will give all Americans, born and unborn, the authentic leadership they deserve" (release, 8/29).
Club for Growth Pres. Pat Toomey: "At a time when many Republicans are still clinging to pork-barrel politics, Governor Palin has quickly become a leader on this issue. She is a principled reformer who understands how badly wasteful spending has marred the Republican brand" (release, 8/29).
Per the McCain camp, Palin "has challenged the influence of the big oil companies while fighting for the development of new energy resources. She leads a state that matters to every one of us -- Alaska has significant energy resources and she has been a leader in the fight to make America energy independent" (8/29).
Mike Huckabee on Palin: She "is a pleasant surprise for those of us who had hoped that Senator McCain would pick a principled and authentic conservative pro-life leader and Sarah Palin is. As a Governor, she also brings an important balance of understanding of the critical domestic issues that is needed and that the Democrats have ignored in their ticket. Governor Palin is smart, authentic, tough, and a dynamic choice that will remind women that if they are not welcome on the Democrat's ticket, they have a place with Republicans" (release, 8/29).
Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) on Palin: "McCain has made clear from the start that he wants to change Washington -- and he proved it today by going as far away from Washington as possible in selecting his running mate. Eighty-eight years after our nation's women first gained the right to vote, this selection demonstrates how far our nation has come. And I'm convinced the American people will respond as overwhelmingly to Governor Palin as the people of Alaska have" (releaes, 8/29).
Mitt Romney on Palin: Her "story is one that all Americans will find inspiring. She's a Washington outsider with a commitment to the conservative principles that will make our nation stronger. I look forward to campaigning for Senator McCain, Governor Palin and Republicans all across the country" (8/29).
Fred Thompson on Palin: "I am absolutely delighted by this selection. Once again, John McCain has shown that he is an independent thinker who paints in bold strokes. Sarah Palin is a conservative reformer with executive experience who will bring a breath of fresh air to Washington. She will be an ideal running mate for John McCain, and will make a major contribution to our country's future" (release, 8/29).
The Dem Reaction
The Obama camp "is pointing out" that the town where Palin served as mayor, Wasilla, AK, "has a population of just" 8K, "which is less than 1/20th the size of his state senate district (when he was a state legislator)" (Jones, NBC/National Journal, 8/29).
Obama camp spokesperson Bill Burton on Palin: "Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency. Governor Palin shares John McCain's commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush's failed economic policies -- that's not the change we need, it's just more of the same" (release, 8/29).
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Palin: "After the great success of the Democratic convention, the choice of Sarah Palin is surely a Hail Mary pass. It is a real roll of the dice and shows how John McCain, Karl Rove et al realize what a strong position the Obama-Biden team and Democrats in general are in in this election. Certainly the choice of Palin puts to rest any argument about inexperience on the Democratic team and while Palin is a fine person, her lack of experience makes the thought of her assuming the presidency troubling. I particularly look forward to the Biden-Palin debate in Missouri."" (release, 8/29).
Rep. Jim Clyburn (R-SC) "pulled no punches" on SC ETV Radio today when asked to assess Palin. Clyburn: "I do believe that McCain has to do something to reshuffle the cards, shake up the establishment, do something unexpected and Governor Palin.has all the kinds of things that McCain might see as a way to shake things up. I think (her selection) would be something similar to Dan Quayle.Dan Quayle proved to be sort of an embarrassment as a campaigner. Being thrust on a national stage like that could be very tough. Now Mondale tried to shake things up by going with Geraldine Ferraro.she proved to be a disaster as a running mate. And as a campaigner, she was absolutely awful. And so I just think that it is very risky for McCain to do this, but it may be all he has left" (Halperin, "The Page," Time.com, 8/29).
McCain's Reaction To The Reaction
McCain comm. dir. Jill Hazelbaker: "It is pretty audacious for the Obama campaign to say that Governor Palin is not qualified to be Vice President. She has a record of accomplishment that Senator Obama simply cannot match. Governor Palin has spent her time in office shaking up government in Alaska and actually achieving results -- whether it's taking on corruption, passing ethics reform or stopping wasteful spending and the 'bridge to nowhere.' Senator Obama has spent his time in office running for President" (release, 8/29).
What It All Means For The Bounce
The last couple days of "breathless speculation meant that McCain had siphoned at least some attention on Obama's big day" (Barbash, Politico, 8/29).
The Hillary Of The GOP
According to a New York Times/CBS News Poll, "nearly"4 in 10 GOP delegates to the convo "say they would like to see" Romney as their VP nom. "No other candidate garnered more than" 7% support "from the delegates (Thee, "The Caucus," New York Times, 8/28).
Huckabee blogs, "there are reports that I'm on my way to Dayton tonight. Not true. Wasn't invited to be there and any reports that I'm going to be there are a big surprise to me. I have never been contacted by the McCain campaign at any point about the VP slot. I have never been asked for any information, background, etc., so as I have said repeatedly in interviews, I didn't consider myself to be under any consideration. I think people thought I was being coy and just not talking, but I have built my political life on trying to shoot straight and tell it as it is and as I see it. I have been honest in telling you that I had no reason to believe I was ever seriously considered or 'vetted' for the ticket" ("Huck PAC blog," 8/28).
After news broke that McCain had tapped Palin as his VP, pundits hit the airwaves to break down what her candidacy means for the race.
A Young Woman:
GOP strategist Mike Murphy: "She's young, dynamic, attractive. She is a conservative. She's well-liked by the conservative base. ... Pro-life, pro-gun. ... She can play generational politics. She's young" (MSNBC, 8/29).
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), on what Palin brings to the ticket: "A lot of energy, enthusiasm, youthfulness, a record of reform. She has a record that is just fantastic from everyone who has watched her term in Alaska. ... I don't know too much about her, but maybe that's the good news" (CNN, 8/29).
GOP strategist Andrea Tantaros, on Palin's appeal: "She's just a cool lady. I mean, she's totally different from the staid Republican image. ... This woman has done it all. I think she embodies the American woman today" (FNC, 8/29).
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN): "I have not met her, but I have followed her. And know her to be a reformer. ... People have wanted to see, men and women both, have wanted to see a conservative woman, and wanted to see conservative women have the input into the McCain campaign. They have done that" (FNC, 8/29).
Might Be Risky
NBC pol. dir. Chuck Todd: "He is absolutely gambling because they believe on the trajectory that they were on, while he was overperforming where a generic Republican should be in this presidential race, they didn't see a path to getting over 51 percent running a traditional race, picking the traditional conservative white male governor, say a Tim Pawlenty or Mitt Romney" (MSNBC, 8/29).
Pat Buchanan: "It is the biggest political risk and gamble that I've ever seen" (MSNBC, 8/29).
Can't Hit A Woman
Todd, on the GOP reacting to Obama's speech: "They saw that show that was put on last night and Obama and the enthusiasm that Democrats have. They had wanted to match that enthusiasm in some way, and this will do it, potentially. But I'll tell you there are going to be a lot of questions about whether somebody who was the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, just three years ago, whether she's ready to be commander in chief" (MSNBC, 8/29).
Todd: "They really wanted to pick a woman, there weren't a lot of choices, there were no obvious people, so this gives them a chance to maybe play the wedge, hope that somehow there's a divide between the Clinton and Obama folks and maybe they'll get something out of it" (MSNBC, 8/29).
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN): "I think the American people are going to be very, very pleased. ... I think it is important for women to know the McCain team has been listening to them" (FNC, 8/29).
Ferrarro: "It's going to be a very interesting campaign. ... Without Hillary being the nominee, it's really quite equally as important because people are looking for a smart campaign, and I think this might do it. There are a lot of women are disaffected by how Hillary was treated by the media, by how she was treated by the Obama campaign ... they'll be looking to see what happens now" (FNC, 8/29).
CNN's Bash: "John McCain wanted to do something to shake things up, and, perhaps most importantly here, pick somebody who is a woman. This campaign is desperate to get Hillary Clinton voters away from Barack Obama, onto his side, and this is one way, clearly, they're going to try to do it. ... This is John McCain's way to say, I am 72 years old, but I can be an agent of change, too" (8/29).
Bailey Hutchison, on appealing to disaffected Hillary Clinton voters with Palin as VP: "I think that anyone who is the mother of five children ... has had a woman's experience, and that is what many women relate to. She also is certainly adept at the issues, she's principled, and the fact that she's a hunter and a fisherman ... is probably something that the American people can relate to. ... And she's certainly a family person. ... I think it's a breath of fresh air, and that's what John McCain had as a factor in his selection. ... I'm sure she's going to be a fabulous campaigner, and people will be clamboring to meet her" (CNN, 8/29).
Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO), on whether Clinton supporters will be lost to McCain/Palin: "I think the Hillary Clinton supporters are going to follow lock-step with what Hillary Clinton has asked them to do" (CNN, 8/29).
Spare Some Change
CNN's Borger: "What this tells us is that John McCain is going to run as a reformer. ... I think he's going to try and portray this as a real reform ticket" (8/29).
GOP strategist Andrea Tantaros: "I think this is a great pick. ... I think that this was a slam dunk by Republicans. They effectively just ripped the change mantra right out of Barack Obama's hands. ... This will present an opportunity for her to bring in other issues that are not traditional Washington issues" (FNC, 8/29).
FNC's Cameron, on the GOP's 'security moms' strategy: "It is clearly what the Republicans hope will be 'Sarah Palin moms'" (8/29).
Age Versus Experience
Bailey Hutchison, on whether Palin's alleged inexperience will hurt the ticket rather than help it: "I'm sure that John has talked to her and is comfortable that she can take the helm. Everyone had said early on that he should have a younger running mate, so he certainly has picked someone who is a real up-and-comer. She just has a wonderful record, and the fact that she's not a Washingtonian, that she is a reformer, that she's outside the Beltway, is a point in her favor. The fact that I don't know her, the fact that others, maybe in Washington, haven't known her, and she doesn't know the ways of Washington, might be the very best thing of all" (CNN, 8/29).
Regarding her upcoming debate with Joe Biden, Bailey Hutchison offered this advice to Biden: "I do think he is an adept debater. ... I think that she will overcome that foreign policy background with more of a freshness; the appeal to regular people. She's clearly smart. She will, I think, be able to hold her own. She's probably a person who has been underestimated in the past, but she has always come through, and she's been very successful. So I think that she is going to, I'm sure, be a surprise for people, but a pleasant one. ... And I think that she brings something different than Joe Biden to this, and my guess is she'll hold her own" (CNN, 8/29).
Weekly Standard's Sammon on the VP debate: "It's gonna be tough ... I think she's gonna be doing a crash course in foreign affairs between now and then" (FNC, 8/29).
GOP strategist Andrea Tantaros, on Palin vs. Biden: "I do think it's going to be very difficult for Democrats to invoke the attack that she is not experience when the top of their ticket is pretty light on experience himself" (FNC, 8/29).
So It Will Be A Party After All
Pat Buchanan: "It's going to be a much more exciting convention now" (MSNBC, 8/29).
Weekly Standard's Sammon, on the ramifications: "If McCain had picked Romney or Pawlenty, which we had all expected, it almost would've been anti-climactic, I'm not sure it would have really limited the bounce Democrats may be getting out of their convention. ... This may or may not be a good pick, but this definitely gives a big spike to the excitement quotient, and it totally, I think, will obliterate Obama from the news today, on the day after his big speech yesterday. So at least in a short-term tactical sense, it could have political benefits" (FNC, 8/29).
Rodney Alexander Scoops Us All
Prefacing his comments by saying he has "no inside information," Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-LA) said he "believes" that McCain might do "the unexpected." Alexander: "I don't have any idea, but my gut feeling says it could be (Palin). ... She would give the ticket diversity and youth." Alexander addded: "I supported Romney during the primary process, and I think he'd make a good choice" (Hilburn, Monroe News-Star, 8/29).
This article appears in the August 29, 2008 edition of Latest Edition.