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Forum Editorial: Gov. Palin balances GOP ticket

This editorial appeared in the Fargo Forum and on its In-Forum Fargo-Moorhead website on Wednesday.

In a Republican campaign that’s been light on surprises, John McCain’s choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for his vice presidential running mate was a welcome departure. McCain’s announcement last week put to rest speculation that centered on Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, among others. Palin, who is only two years into her first term as Alaska’s governor, had not even been on the long list of possibilities. Or so we thought.

She’s a smart choice for McCain. Not only is she articulate and comfortable in front of a camera, she carries impeccable conservative credentials to the ticket. That’s important for McCain, who has had to spend a lot of time and energy convincing the right wing of his party that he’s conservative enough. Gov. Palin is on the right side of the social issues dear to the right wing’s heart, including abortion, gay marriage and the role of faith in public life. McCain’s choice was greeted with enthusiastic applause by Evangelical Christian groups, including the Liberty Counsel, which has tried to bring evangelicals into McCain’s camp.

Palin, therefore, will be a positive factor as McCain tries to solidify support for the Republican ticket among social conservatives, many of whom have been reluctant to embrace the maverick Arizona senator.

But what of the rest of the nation? What of the so-called moderate Republicans and independents McCain needs to win in what looks to be a close election? What about “Reagan Democrats” who might be drifting from the Obama-Biden ticket because it is traditionally liberal?

At this point, the nation knows little about an obscure governor from Alaska. Up until last week, most Americans did not know who Alaska’s governor was, let alone that she was in consideration for the vice presidential spot. Palin will get a big introduction to the nation at the Republican Convention in St. Paul, which got under way Monday. McCain and Palin have an opportunity to present a ticket that is strong on experience (McCain) and strong on solid conservative credentials (Palin).

It will be no challenge to get convention delegates and party faithful across the country to embrace Palin. It will be a more complicated trick, however, to sell the ticket to the broader, less political electorate. That vital segment of voters has yet to make up its collective mind, according to state and national polls. Palin, who is the first Republican woman on a presidential ticket, has an opportunity to present to the nation an image that redefines somewhat McCain’s image as an aging Washington insider. Alaskans are proud of being outsiders.

McCain’s surprise selection balances the Republican ticket by gender, age and experience. Palin’s Alaskan heritage is the real thing. Her life experiences – both personally and politically – comprise a compelling American story. Americans of all or no political stripes will be eager to get to know her.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board. This editorial was originally published Sept. 3; it is reprinted with permission.

This editorial appeared in the Fargo Forum and on its In-Forum Fargo-Moorhead website on Wednesday.

In a Republican campaign that’s been light on surprises, John McCain’s choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for his vice presidential running mate was a welcome departure. McCain’s announcement last week put to rest speculation that centered on Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, among others. Palin, who is only two years into her first term as Alaska’s governor, had not even been on the long list of possibilities. Or so we thought.

She’s a smart choice for McCain. Not only is she articulate and comfortable in front of a camera, she carries impeccable conservative credentials to the ticket. That’s important for McCain, who has had to spend a lot of time and energy convincing the right wing of his party that he’s conservative enough. Gov. Palin is on the right side of the social issues dear to the right wing’s heart, including abortion, gay marriage and the role of faith in public life. McCain’s choice was greeted with enthusiastic applause by Evangelical Christian groups, including the Liberty Counsel, which has tried to bring evangelicals into McCain’s camp.

Palin, therefore, will be a positive factor as McCain tries to solidify support for the Republican ticket among social conservatives, many of whom have been reluctant to embrace the maverick Arizona senator.

But what of the rest of the nation? What of the so-called moderate Republicans and independents McCain needs to win in what looks to be a close election? What about “Reagan Democrats” who might be drifting from the Obama-Biden ticket because it is traditionally liberal?

At this point, the nation knows little about an obscure governor from Alaska. Up until last week, most Americans did not know who Alaska’s governor was, let alone that she was in consideration for the vice presidential spot. Palin will get a big introduction to the nation at the Republican Convention in St. Paul, which got under way Monday. McCain and Palin have an opportunity to present a ticket that is strong on experience (McCain) and strong on solid conservative credentials (Palin).

It will be no challenge to get convention delegates and party faithful across the country to embrace Palin. It will be a more complicated trick, however, to sell the ticket to the broader, less political electorate. That vital segment of voters has yet to make up its collective mind, according to state and national polls. Palin, who is the first Republican woman on a presidential ticket, has an opportunity to present to the nation an image that redefines somewhat McCain’s image as an aging Washington insider. Alaskans are proud of being outsiders.

McCain’s surprise selection balances the Republican ticket by gender, age and experience. Palin’s Alaskan heritage is the real thing. Her life experiences – both personally and politically – comprise a compelling American story. Americans of all or no political stripes will be eager to get to know her.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board. This editorial was originally published Sept. 3; it is reprinted with permission.

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If you’re interested in joining the discussion by writing a Community Voices article, email Susan Albright at salbright [at] minnpost [dot] com.

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