Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s mass media debut was a success Wednesday night. My opinion.
I won’t see the Nielsen ratings for Palin’s acceptance speech until tomorrow. But, I’d guess they’ll be some of the best, if not the best, for this week’s Republican gathering. The Democrats should take this opponent seriously, if they haven’t already.
Speaking before adoring Republican delegates, family and supporters at the Republican National Convention, Palin didn’t disappoint.
Governor Palin touched on the issues (national security, political experience, small town roots, less government, etc.) that appeal to Republicans and moderate, conservative independent voters. She took humorous, but direct shots at Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama. She talked about her own small town upbringing, a soccer mom from Alaska where hard working values are the backbone of character.
Palin lavished praise on Republican Presidential nominee John McCain. Calling him a true American hero, Palin said McCain who would rather lose the White House than the war in Iraq. Palin said Senator McCain is a maverick politician who refuses to run with the Washington political establishment, favoring the greater interests and needs of American voters. “Here’s how I look at the choice Americans face in this election,” said Palin. “In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change.”
Palin said all the right things tonight. What impressed me most was Governor Palin’s poise. In one week Palin’s public and private life have been thrust into the media spotlight. There, the curious attention of the public is magnified a thousand times over, and, like this blog, launched on web pages, newspapers, television, radio and magazines.
The white hot media spotlight shone even more intensely with news that Palin’s 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. There’s also an investigation by the Alaska Legislature surrounding allegations that Palin abused her position as Alaska governor by dismissing Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan in retaliation for his failure to fire Palin’s former brother-in-law, Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten. Wooten was involved in a child custody battle with Palin’s sister, Molly McCann.
Despite the scrutiny, Palin looked relaxed and confident in her address in St. Paul, MN. It was evident she prepared well for the occasion, practicing every nuance of a well crafted political speech. She delivered it without flaw.
As CBS News Political Correspondent Bob Schieffer commented afterwards, “She passed the first test,” referring to Palin’s warm, partisan reception at the GOP convention. Here, her words were tightly scripted.
What follows the Republican National Convention for Sarah Palin will be less scripted, if at all. She’ll be on the campaign trail where exhaustion is the norm and staying on message is critical to winning the November election.
On the campaign trail, outside the cozy cocoon of partisan adoration that washed over her tonight, Palin will likely meet the harsh realities of political campaigning. The political campaign stakes don’t get higher than this in U.S. politics. The presidency and vice-presidency are in the offing.
Despite Republican claims of political bias, the news media will ask tougher questions than have already been asked of Palin this past week. It could be Palin’s ultimate political test.
American voters will decide which party’s nominees pass that test. McCain-Palin vs. Obama-Biden. Whichever ticket convinces voters they are best suited for the Oval Office, wins the White House this November.