Candidates want Palin

Republican congressional candidates anxious for a safe and popular national political figure to campaign with appear to have landed just that in Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

But with demand extremely high and supply low, it appears the new GOP vice presidential nominee will have to be rationed carefully in the fewer than 60 days before the 2008 election.


Republican candidates lauded Palin’s selection 10 days ago and swooned when she delivered her nomination acceptance speech on Wednesday at the party’s convention.

Now, with the Republican National Convention over and operatives filtering back to their regular jobs in Washington and around the country, the Palin sweepstakes have begun.

Congressional candidates from all regions are already requesting face-time with Palin, and national Republicans are trying to figure out how to approach the situation.

A spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Rebecca Fisher, said the committee has received “significant requests from our Senate campaigns to appear with Palin in their state.”

One Republican source called it a “huge and immediate” response and attributed it to Palin’s role in helping close the enthusiasm gap between the GOP and Democrats.

“There’s a lot of requests being made,” the source said. “But there’s only 58 days until the election, and they’ll be heavily campaigning. The details will have to be worked out.

“We’re in the infancy of that stage right now.”

Congressional campaigns contacted by The Hill were nearly unanimous in saying they would love for Palin to visit their districts. Many had already requested her presence, and most of the rest said they would do so soon.

But they also recognized the reality of having more than 50 potentially competitive races and so little time, not to mention Palin’s primary concern — winning her own race.

Chris Meekins, a spokesman for Maryland 1st district candidate Andy Harris (R), said he was doubtful Palin would visit an uncompetitive state like theirs even though it’s an open seat, but added that he hoped she might make a slight detour from visits to competitive areas nearby in Northern Virginia or southeast Pennsylvania.

“Palin is a great pick for our district,” Meekins said. “We would even welcome her snowmobiling, hunting husband in for an event.”

As it turns out, Palin will join Republican presidential nominee John McCainJohn Sidney McCainBill Maher delivers mock eulogy for Trump Hillary Clinton roasts NYT's Maureen Dowd over column CNN's Ana Navarro to host Biden roundtable on making 'Trump a one-term president' MORE in Northern Virginia on Wednesday for an event.

The event will be held in Fairfax in retiring Rep. Tom Davis’s (R) district, and another potentially competitive race is nearby, in Rep. Frank WolfFrank Rudolph WolfAfrica's gathering storm DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling Vulnerable Republican keeps focus as Democrats highlight Trump MORE’s (R) district. Wolf and the GOP nominee for Davis’s seat are both planning to attend.

That nominee, businessman Keith Fimian, is planning a “huge presence” at the event, campaign manager Zack Condry said.

He said he would love to get his boss a speaking role alongside Palin, adding that they are both fresh faces.

{mospagebreak}“I’m pushing hard for it, but I haven’t got a definitive answer,” Condry said. “I’m sure they’re hashing out all that stuff.”

Other candidates recognized it would be difficult to get on Palin’s radar.

Adam Bauer, a spokesman for Connecticut state Sen. David Cappiello, acknowledged Palin’s “very busy schedule,” but said that Cappiello would welcome her if she could come. Cappiello is running against freshman Rep. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocrats try to force Trump to boost medical supplies production Overnight Defense: Air Force general officially becomes first African American service chief | Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure | State Department's special envoy for Iran is departing the Trump administration Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure MORE (D-Conn.) for a seat that Republican Rep. Nancy Johnson had held for 24 years before Murphy’s win.


Mark Campbell, a spokesman for Rep. Jim GerlachJames (Jim) GerlachThe business case for employer to employee engagement 2018 midterms: The blue wave or a red dawn? Pa. GOP 'disappointed' by rep retiring after filing deadline MORE (R-Pa.), said it would be selfish to ask for Palin’s support when other candidates in Pennsylvania are in much closer races.

But he said Gerlach would gladly accept any help. The incumbent’s opponent, businessman Bob Roggio (D), on Monday announced the endorsement of Democratic presidential nominee Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaWhy payroll tax cut opponents may want to reconsider Michelle Obama, Sanders, Kasich to be featured on first night of Democratic convention: report Graham says he appreciates Trump orders, but 'would much prefer a congressional agreement' MORE.

Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), facing a well-funded challenge, said Palin connects with his constituents.

Feeney said the “last Republican to enter the national stage with such impressive force was Ronald Reagan in 1964, with his ‘A Time for Choosing’ speech on behalf of Barry Goldwater.”

GOPers say Palin brings something other top Republicans couldn’t to their districts, even aside from her gender.

President Bush’s and Vice President Cheney’s low approval ratings make them risky campaign trail guests, and McCain hasn’t always motivated the base of the party, even if Republicans appear to be coming off a successful convention.

With Palin, those drawbacks are neutralized, Republicans say, making her a potentially bigger boon to local candidates than even McCain.

“She’s fresh, she’s vibrant, and she’s not a U.S. senator,” said a GOP operative working on a congressional campaign. “The ‘hockey mom’ thing is perfect for her. So many people relate to that.”

Palin’s grand entrance is particularly welcome for House Republicans, who are counting on the presidential ticket to make up for their dearth of cash.

Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.), the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said at last week’s convention that the party’s “strength in congressional races this year rests at the top of the ticket.”

The McCain-Palin campaign confirmed the big response and said the governor would do what her schedule would allow, including events and fundraisers separate from McCain.

“Gov. Palin’s record of reform and willingness to shake things up has excited both voters and candidates,” said spokeswoman Maria Comella.

It is hoped that Palin could be a particular help in the Pacific Northwest, given her roots in Alaska and Idaho. But Republicans see her “hockey mom” appeal working in conservative districts around the country, and those types of districts are the predominant battleground in 2008.

One race where Palin’s impact could be particularly big is the Alaska Senate race, where indicted Sen. Ted Stevens (R) has praised her selection and campaigned with her in 2006.

Endorsing Stevens could hurt Palin’s efforts to cast herself and McCain as reformers, though, while not endorsing him could contribute to the GOP losing a Senate seat.

McCain’s campaign has not responded to multiple inquiries about Stevens in recent days.