Presidential Campaign

So-Called ‘Offensive’ Story is Actually About McCain, not Palin

ST. PAUL — The McCain campaign finds the media coverage of new revelations about Sarah Palin’s family “offensive.” But let’s remember, this would be a story about Barack Obama’s vice presidential choice as well. More importantly, this story isn’t about Palin; it’s about John McCain.

Sarah Palin has walked the walk as a pro-life Republican. Even if she promotes abstinence, she could hardly lock her teenage daughters in the house. Now that one of them is pregnant Palin is doing what she can to bring another child into the world with love and the full support of a whole family.

Palin remains an appealing choice, and social conservatives are even more enthusiastic about her than before the story broke. That McCain will keep his base excited, engaged and guaranteed on Nov. 4 is a critical factor in his path to victory. This is a tight race and ultimately a numbers game; he needs the base of his party behind him and it appears he will have it.

But what does this tell us, or remind us, about John McCain? Reports that Palin wasn’t adequately vetted raise disturbing questions about McCain’s judgment. We all know Palin wasn’t the ideal maverick/reformer candidate McCain had planned on all along — this was an eleventh-hour decision that came after McCain was talked out of the men he wanted, Joe Lieberman and Tom Ridge. Read the papers today: Palin wasn’t properly vetted. The team arrived in Alaska Thursday and the announcement came Friday. How’s that for competency?

We know this was a gamble, and in time we will know if it was reckless. What we know for sure is that McCain made a snap decision and chose someone he didn’t know and had met only once. If we take him at his word that he knew all about Bristol’s pregnancy and the trooper investigation, then we know he was willing to invite a huge distraction. This is something his cautious rival would never have done. It tells us more about what kind of president McCain, the unpredictable fighter pilot, would be.

Here we are at a nominating convention that was planned for years, and instead of talking about a war hero we are talking about a pregnant teenager. This is something McCain asked for. And if it turns out he didn’t know these things last Friday, then he shouldn’t be asking Americans for their vote.

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WILL JUDGMENT QUESTIONS HURT MCCAIN WITH INDEPENDENTS? AskAB returns Monday, Sept. 8 to wrap the GOP convention. Please join my weekly video blog by sending your questions and comments to askab@thehill.com. Thank you.

Tags Candidate Position Joe the Plumber John McCain John McCain John McCain presidential campaign Person Career Public image of Sarah Palin Sarah Palin Sarah Palin Sarah Palin interviews with Katie Couric Tea Party movement United States
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