A lot has happened since we spoke with Rep. Anna Eshoo and San Mateo County supervisor Rich Gordon last Friday about the announcement of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as Sen. John McCain’s pick for the job of vice president.
There’s been a media storm about Palin’s credentials, McCain’s vetting process and the news that the governor’s 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. Then the storm broke last night with Palin’s powerful, if rather snide, speech before the Republican National Convention, which sent a jolt of energy through the party and caused chants of “Drill, baby, drill!” (the Republicans sure have a sophisticated take on energy policy, don’t they?) to bounce off the walls of St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.
Now a new media cycle begins, and the Democrats aren’t likely to underestimate Palin any longer. We’ll be getting a fresh perspective from local Democrats and Republicans in the next couple days. In the meantime, here, from Saturday’s print edition of the Insider, is what Eshoo and Gordon had to say when the pick was first made public
Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, was just as thunderstruck as many Americans by McCain’s choice of Palin.
Using words like “bizarre” and “startling,” Eshoo said McCain’s surprise pick showed that the GOP is a “panicked party” right now. It also reminded her of Sen. Barack Obama’s acceptance speech Thursday on the final night of the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
“He hit McCain squarely on temperament and choices,” said Eshoo, who is pictured below, “and you see today the baffling, baffling choice in terms of his judgment for the person who would be a heartbeat from the Oval Office.”
Republicans swarmed cable news broadcasts last Friday, spinning the choice of Palin as a bold stroke that restores McCain’s faded maverick image, endears him to fundamentalist voters, appeals to women and blunts Obama’s power as a once-in-a-lifetime candidate.
But the McCain camp has yet to come up with a compelling argument for Palin in the key area of national security, an issue that’s been the center of gravity for his campaign. (The arguments that Palin is in charge of the Alaska National Guard, except when it’s deployed overseas, and that Alaska is close to Russia haven’t cut it.)
With the country facing, in McCain’s view, multiple international crises that threaten America’s existence, from Islamic terrorists to Iran and Russia’s recent muscle-flexing in Georgia, he now asks voters to accept the premise that a two-year governor in a sparsely populated state, someone whose knowledge of foreign affairs appears to be paper-thin, is ready to become commander in chief if McCain, 72, should fall ill.
“In plain English, I think it’s a disaster for them,” Eshoo said last week.
Gordon, who joined Eshoo in Denver last week as a member of the California delegation, said last Friday that Palin was “a strange pick.”
“If he thinks that that pick is going to draw women who supported Hillary Clinton, I think he’s terribly wrong and made a huge mistake,” said Gordon, pictured above getting a hug from Eshoo at his wedding shower in July.
Women won’t just vote for someone because they’re female, he said. They’ll look at the issues, including Palin’s strong pro-life stance.
The Insider tried to reach several Republicans for their perspective on Friday, but we were unsuccessful.
Catherine Brinkman, a Republican who is running for state Assembly in District 19, did not get back to us.
Our attempt to reach Karen King, chair of the county Republican Party, was a window into the state of the local GOP. Although the headquarters lists a separate fax line, the main number for the party office gave off a fax signal every time we tried it Friday afternoon.
When we called the fax number, just for kicks, we got a voice message for a local photography business. And an e-mail to the address listed on the Web site was kicked back as undeliverable.
Greg Conlon, who is challenging Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, for a seat in Congress, was not able to respond to us in time for the print edition, but we got an e-mail from him Saturday.
“I believe it is great to have a young woman on the ticket who has to also be considered her own woman,” Conlon said of Palin, “because she won as a woman when (Alaska) was going through a Republican scandal, that she was not part of, and won as someone who was willing to take on the oil companies for the oil spill damages.”
Palin also “will make it difficult for the Hillary Clinton supporters to not vote for a women who is up to taking on the establishment and winning,” Conlon added.