Palin faces scrutiny, Internet rumours as VP pick
September 1, 2008
Just days after Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was made the surprise Republican candidate for vice president, she has been vigorously attacked on left-wing blogs and even her hometown newspapers.
It’s a stark contrast from the 80 per cent approval rating she enjoys as governor in an out-of-the-way state.
When John McCain made his VP announcement Friday, the pick was seen by political pundits as risky — but with a significant upside.
Palin, who is staunchly anti-abortion and pro-gun rights, was hoped to shore up a McCain weakness by strengthening his support from social conservatives.
But the relative-unknown on the national stage was not without some controversy, as an ethics investigation into her firing of the Alaskan public safety commissioner is underway.
Additionally, in her debut VP candidate speech Friday, Palin touted her success in nixing the “Bridge to Nowhere” project — which would have connected Gravina Island with the Ketchikan airport. It was the type of “pork-barrel project” that McCain has promised to fight against if elected president.
But the Anchorage Daily News is reporting that Palin actually supported the project originally when she campaigned for governor in 2006.
Another Alaskan Newspaper, the Daily News-Miner, had a similar article on Sunday. And on Saturday, one of that newspaper’s columnists praised her record as governor but wrote “in no way does her year-and-a-half as governor of Alaska qualify her to be vice president or president of the United States.”
It’s the type of scrutiny that the McCain camp will increasingly see as the media catches up on the background of the surprise choice.
But it’s nothing compared to the online smear campaign that has begun against Palin.
The most-vicious, from the left-leaning Daily Kos, contains completely unsubstantiated rumours about her recent pregnancy.
The Anchorage Daily News wrote at the time, “That the pregnancy is so advanced it astonished all who heard the news. The governor, a runner who’s always been trim, simply doesn’t look pregnant.”
The Huffington Post, an extremely popular left-wing blog, has devoted nearly its entire website over the past few days to criticizing the Palin pick.
One of its stories quotes Sarah Palin’s mother-in-law, Faye Palin, as saying she’s not sure which way she will vote.
“I’m not sure what she brings to the ticket other than she’s a woman and a conservative,” Faye Palin tells The Huffington Post.
Democrat’s message conflicted
But while the blogsphere was afire with Palin attacks, the Democrats haven’t figured out quite what to do about Palin, only the second woman on a presidential ticket.
There were a few shots across the bow — Sen. John Kerry called her a member of the “flat-Earth caucus” for her conservative views — but the Obama campaign has so far tip-toed around Palin.
The Obama camp released a new ad Saturday saying that McCain-Palin is just “more of the same” but doesn’t explicitly mention Palin by name.
“Well, he’s made his choice,” the ad says. “But, for the rest of us there’s still no change. McCain doesn’t get it, calling this broken economy ‘strong.’ Wants to keep spending ten-billion-a-month in Iraq. And votes with George Bush 90 percent of the time.”
“So, while this may be his running mate . . .” they ad continues, as an image of McCain and Palin appears on the screen, followed by a shot of McCain and U.S. President George Bush embracing, “America knows this is John McCain’s agenda. And we can’t afford four more years of the same.”
Obama and his VP pick, Joe Biden, issued a joint statement saying her selection was “yet another encouraging sign that old barriers are falling in our politics.”
However, an earlier statement from an Obama spokesperson on Friday called Palin, “the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience.”
Obama later said the contradicting statements was an example of campaign “hair triggers.”
“The statement that Joe and I put out reflects our sentiments,” he said.