(Bumped to the top: NAM’s executive vice president, Jay Timmons, has been blogging this week from the National Democratic Convention in Denver. Today, Timmons reacts to Sen. John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate, drawing on his experience as the former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Comimttee.)
While the pick of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was a surprise to many, it was clearly a calculated move by Senator John McCain to also make history in this year’s election. A trailblazer for women, she could be an attractive alternative for those who had believed Hillary Clinton would have been the strongest pick for Barack Obama.
Governor Palin, a star of pro-life party members, will help ease the concerns of social conservatives who were worried McCain would choose a pro-choice Republican (or Democrat) to be his second in command. She is a strong executive (the only candidate for President or Vice President this year who has such experience) and does not shy from difficult decisions. She won admiration from her fellow Alaskans when she returned to the job of Governor last year just three days after giving birth to her fifth child.
She has adhered to a fairly conservative fiscal policy as well (although Alaska has quirky budgetary provisions). On energy, Governor Palin could be helpful in convincing Senator McCain to support development on the north slope of Alaska near ANWR.
No stranger to talking tough challenges, she defeated an incumbent Governor – a fellow Republican – in the 2006 gubernatorial primary. This was the same Governor who appointed her to head an agency in his administration, a job she later resigned in protest over her concern that ethical standards were not being followed.
The Governor is an incredibly engaging public official and will be a strong advocate for a McCain presidency on the trail. In 2004, I sat down with her in a local restaurant near Wasilla, Alaska, to discuss her interest in running for the U.S. Senate against fellow Republican and incumbent Lisa Murkowski. Armed with polling information and precinct data, I was prepared to discuss her thoughts on whether she could win the race. She was only interested in talking about how she thought she could make an impact on national public policy – a focus on fiscal discipline, lower taxes on working Americans and strong support for the military and exporting freedom.
I was thoroughly impressed. And Americans are likely to be impressed with her story and record as well. John McCain has chosen wisely.
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