Sarah Palin – John McCain’s VP Choice
BREAKING: Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has been tabbed as John McCain’s vice presidential running mate, CNBC reports.
His name has been on the short list all along and, while he’s not an exciting choice, he doesn’t bring the liability of the other names that we’ve been hearing.
Mitt Romney is the obvious choice. Despite Mike Huckabee ultimately getting a few more votes by hanging in long after it was over, Romney was easily the second choice of Republican primary voters. He’s attractive, relatively young, and has a strong resume. But he and McCain seem to genuinely dislike each other and there are plenty of negative sound bytes from the primaries for the Democrats to use in their ads. And then there’s the “he owns more than one house” problem. And the Mormon problem.
Huckabee would be the best choice if the election were going to be decided by Evangelicals. It won’t be, however.
Joe Lieberman would be the guy if it McCain had his druthers. The two are good friends and would work well together. It would also be the boldest serious choice available and a strong play in the contest to attract moderates and even conservative Democrats. But it’s too risky. McCain has enough trouble with the base that he’s not going to be able to pull the trigger on a pro-choice fellow who, despite being hated by the Democrats, votes with his former party 80 percent of the time.
Condi Rice, Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal and other longshot choices would liven up the race. They’d also undercut key parts of McCain’s message. Neither Palin nor Jindal are more experienced than Obama and it’s hard to run as a maverick who’s not a third Bush term running with Bush’s chief foreign policy advisor.
UPDATE: ABC reports that Palin in still in Alaska, seeming to rule her out logistically. They also report that Pawlenty has received a call saying he’s not the guy. Which means, as it did with Biden, he’s either 1) actually not the guy or 2) telling a little white lie to keep the suspense going a little longer.
UPDATE II: Now AP says, “Two GOP strategists close to the McCain campaign said all indications pointed to Palin.” Drudge has had a McCain-Palin logo atop his site most of the morning, despite no links to stories (until this one) indicating Palin was a likely choice.
Aside from being young and hot-for-a-politician, though, Palin undercuts McCain’s entire campaign theme. She’s got less political experience and less foreign policy experience than Obama.
UPDATE: More from CNBC, which seems to be the first to go on the record with Palin as the choice.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a self-styled “hockey mom” who has only been governor for a little over a year, is GOP Presidential candidate John McCain’s choice for Vice President, CNBC has learned. According to a Republican strategist, Palin is the nominee, though McCain’s campaign has not comfirmed this. [But have they confirmed it? -ed.]
At 44, Palin is younger than Obama and, like McCain, she calls herself a maverick.
I’d never heard of Palin before the VP buzz started on the blogs a while back. She’s supposedly an excellent campaigner. And, obviously, her youth and gender make her a bold pick. Ultimately, though, I think she doesn’t make sense. If you’re running on “the country’s security is too important to be run by neophytes,” you can’t have one as next in line.
While Joe Biden was, twice, an awful presidential candidate, he’s a plausible president. Sarah Palin is not.
I hope CNBC is wrong.
UPDATE: AP is running with the story, too.
UPDATE: They’ve gone from qualifiers to a bold statement that Palin’s the one:
UPDATE: CNN‘s on board, too:
Palin, 44, who’s in her first term as governor, is a pioneering figure in Alaska, the first woman and the youngest person to hold the state’s top political job.
She catapulted to the post with a strong reputation as a political outsider, forged during her stint in local politics. She was mayor and a council member of the small town of Wasilla and was chairman of the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which regulates Alaska’s oil and gas resources, in 2003 and 2004.
The conservative Palin defeated two so-called political insiders to win the governor’s job — incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski in the GOP primary and former two-term Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles in the 2006 general election.
Palin made her name in part by backing tough ethical standards for politicians. During the first legislative session after her election, her administration passed a state ethics law overhaul.
Palin’s term has not been without controversy. A legislative investigation is looking into allegations that Palin fired Alaska’s public safety commissioner because he refused to fire the governor’s former brother-in-law, a state trooper. Palin acknowledged that a member of her staff made a call to a trooper in which the staffer suggested he was speaking for the governor. Palin has admitted that the call could be interpreted as pressure to fire state trooper Mike Wooten, who was locked in a child-custody battle with Palin’s sister. “I am truly disappointed and disturbed to learn that a member of this administration contacted the Department of Public Safety regarding Trooper Wooten,” Palin said. “At no time did I authorize any member of my staff to do so.”
She’s going to make us pine for the days of Dan Quayle, methinks.
TIME, at least, is happy with the boldness of the pick, going with the headline: “McCain’s Surprise Pick: Sarah Palin.” The text, thus far, is just AP wire copy.
WSJ is hailing the pick.
The move is the most dramatic in a series of efforts to appeal to Hillary Clinton supporters still disappointed that she didn’t capture the Democratic nomination. Gov. Palin also reinforces Sen. McCain’s reformer image. She took on her state’s political establishment that had been rocked by an FBI corruption investigation.
At the same time, her thin resume runs the risk of undercutting a central attack by Sen. McCain against Sen. Obama: That he isn’t ready to serve as president. The ability of Sen. McCain’s vice president to step into the top job is seen as particularly important given his age: He turns 72 today and would be the oldest person ever to enter the White House.
Even as Alaska governor, Gov. Palin has been criticized for her sparse experience. “Sarah is a small town mayor running Alaska as if it’s a small town,” says Frank Smith, a former union and Democratic Party activist in Alaska. “McCain is out of his mind. He has no foreign policy experience and she’ll help because she’s been fishing in Canada.”
The Republican Party’s conservative base — long wary of Sen. McCain and angry in recent weeks about hints he may pick a pro-choice running mate — hailed the move.
“Conservatives will be thrilled with this pick. Gov. Palin is a down the line mainstream conservative who will energize the base and reach across party lines attracting women voters, independents and blue collar Democrats,” Greg Mueller, a Republican strategist, and former aide to Republican presidential candidates Steve Forbes and Pat Buchanan, said in a blast email. “Governor Palin is a terrific contrast to the all Washington ticket of Obama-Biden. She is a wonderful contrast to Biden, and a truly outside the beltway pick.”
We’ll see what the reaction turns out to be. I’m certainly not the target audience. But McCain’s first big decision is, in my mind, a truly awful one. Obama went traditional but steady in Biden. It wasn’t a bold pick but it was one that butressed his claim that he has judgment even though he lacks experience. McCain has done the opposite here.
Update: I’ll have more on Palin in subsequent threads as I get to know her a bit better and have time to digest it. Since my take has been so negative, though, I thought I’d add some praise from an unlikely source, Charles Homans, a new editor at Washington Monthly who “lived in and reported on Alaska for the entirety of Sarah Palin’s tenure as governor.”
Palin can legitimately claim the maverick reformist credentials that McCain himself has long since lost. Her pro-life record helps McCain with the Republican base, her gender might lure away a few Hillary bitter-enders, and her youth goes a little way towards compensating one of McCain’s major weaknesses. Palin also manages the Obama-esque feat of commanding a great deal of popularity among people who don’t really know what she stands for–Dave Dittman, an Anchorage-based pollster, who has done a lot of polling and thinking about this, pointed out to me several months ago that Palin was maintaining a 85 percent approval rating among Alaskan voters even when her policies (particularly a natural gas line deal that has been a signature ambition of her administration) polled far short of that, and even when voters had trouble accurately describing her political leanings. She also pretty much guarantees a McCain victory in her home state, where Obama has been polling astoundingly well (Alaska hasn’t gone for a Democrat since Lyndon Johnson).
It’s not much, to be sure, but useful in an admission against interests sort of way. That Mark Levin and the like are stoked is, by contrast, decidedly less comforting.