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Local reaction to Palin

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin

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.”

Rep. Anna Eshoo

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.”

County Supervisor Rich Gordon hugs Rep. Anna Eshoo last month at his wedding shower.

“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.

Posted on Thursday, September 4th, 2008
Under: 2008 Presidental Race, Aaron Kinney, Anna Eshoo, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Political Campaigns, Republican Party, Rich Gordon, San Mateo County | 2 Comments »

The Speier and Eshoo update

Before Jackie Speier learned about the handiness of the bicycle rickshaw, she wore out her feet Monday trekking from one event to the next in downtown Denver. She estimates she walked six miles that day, much of it in high heels. She was eventually forced to stop and buy a pair of flats to ease the pain.

John Kerry spoke at a delegates breakfast Wednesday morning and tore the roof off with a speech that was very much like the one he delivered later that day at the Pepsi Center. Speier said the speech reinforced her opinion that John McCain is an “extremist,” from foreign policy to abortion, and not a maverick.

At a lunch hosted by Sen. Barbara Boxer later that day and put on by none another than local Democratic Party insider Joe Cotchett, California’s junior senator regaled the crowd with stories of her interactions with McCain when she first got to Washington in 1992.

Boxer recalled seeing flashes of McCain’s anger on more than one occasion, said Speier, who like Barack Obama himself Thursday night questioned whether McCain has the temperament to be a steady commander in chief.

“The question I would ask is, do we really want someone like that holding on to the red phone?” said Speier.

Speier wanted to see her fellow Democrats go on the offensive against McCain during the convention. Rep. Anna Eshoo had a different approach, warning that bashing McCain too aggressively could produce a backlash.

“By the time the TVs are off with the closing of the convention, (voters) need to be left with the impression that it was thoughtful,” Eshoo said. “This is not about (a) bumper sticker mentality. That’s what the Republicans like to do, but that’s not enough. It’s about the future of our country.”

Nevertheless, Eshoo predicted Wednesday, by the end of the convention, “The lines will have been drawn.”

We’re trying to check in with both Speier and Eshoo today to see if the final 24 hours of the convention lived up to their expectations.

Posted on Friday, August 29th, 2008
Under: 2008 Congressional Race, 2008 Presidental Race, Aaron Kinney, Anna Eshoo, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Hillsborough, Jackie Speier, Political Campaigns, Republican Party, San Mateo County | No Comments »

Speier and Eshoo in Denver

[Update: We were snowed under Thursday. We'll have a full account from Speier and Eshoo, as well as San Mateo County Supervisor Rich Gordon, on Friday. Apologies for the delay.]

We talked Wednesday afternoon to both Reps. Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo, who shared their thoughts on Sen. Hillary Clinton’s speech Tuesday night, among other subjects.

What else did they talk about? Speier mentioned some interesting remarks that Sen. Barbara Boxer made about John McCain, while Eshoo offered up a vision for a successful finish to the Democratic National Convention that keeps McCain bashing to a minimum.

Check back here Thursday morning for more on those subject and few others.

Posted on Wednesday, August 27th, 2008
Under: 2008 Congressional Race, 2008 Presidental Race, Aaron Kinney, Anna Eshoo, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Hillsborough, Jackie Speier, Political Campaigns, Republican Party, San Mateo County | No Comments »

See Rudy plunge

giuliani-2.jpg

When Rudy Giuliani paid a visit to Broadway Grill in Burlingame last spring, he was the frontrunner in the race to capture the Republican nomination and riding high in the polls. (This poll from April 2007 gives a sense of his status at the time.)

As of Wednesday, he was out of the presidential race, his campaign having suffered a collapse of historic proportions.

There are lots of theories as to what happened, chief among them Giuliani’s unusual strategy of focusing on Florida rather than some of the earlier contests.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2008
Under: 2008 Presidental Race, Aaron Kinney, Barack Obama, Burlingame, Republican Party | No Comments »

A brief visit by Dubya

bush.jpg

[Updated Thursday at 4 p.m. See below]

The Hillsborough Police Department was keeping mum on President George W. Bush’s visit today, but we’re hearing the dinner he’s attending this afternoon will take place at the Carolands Chateau.

“The only thing we are saying right now is he is visiting Hillsborough and we’re referring questions to the Secret Service,” Hillsborough police Executive Assistant LeAnn Thornton said this morning.

The San Francisco office of the Secret Service was swift to inform us that they don’t talk about the president’s schedule (which is understandable). But we’ve learned that, by the looks of it, something big is afoot up at the Carolands.

Bush is to participate in a Republican National Committee dinner that is closed to the press. His visit will be brief. Air Force One is scheduled to touch down at SFO at 4:30 p.m. and depart at 7:05 p.m.

UPDATE: The GOP soiree was indeed held at the Carolands. Republican insider and Hillsborough resident Katherine Boyd declared Thursday that the dinner, which raised a reported $1.5 million for the RNC, was “absolutely wonderful.”

carolands.jpg

Boyd said Bush spoke briefly and then took questions. She said she’s “never seen him better” and he looked “very relaxed.”

Despite all the turmoil that’s gripped his unpopular administration over the last several years, Bush’s life would appear to remain pretty comfortable.

The scene around the chateau Wednesday afternoon was quiet. No protestors and not too many gawkers. Just a bunch of cops posted at pretty much every intersection near the estate and a bit of snarled traffic surrounding the president’s arrival and departure.

Posted on Wednesday, January 30th, 2008
Under: Aaron Kinney, Hillsborough, Republican Party | No Comments »