ST. PAUL, Minn. — As if a light switch had been turned on, John McCain’s decision to add Sarah Palin to the ticket has transformed the race and energized conservatives.
After the announcement that Palin would be the Republican vice presidential nominee, $7 million poured into the McCain campaign that same day.
“That is the biggest day we have ever had,” Bob Heckman, the McCain campaign’s national conservative outreach director, tells Newsmax. “We’ve had an avalanche of phone calls and e-mails saying they want to volunteer and work with the campaign.”
Palin’s acceptance speech turned her into a rock star. But even before that, Heckman said, “The enthusiasm level has been incredible. A number of conservative leaders in particular, who had been reluctant before, are now fully and totally committed. The attacks on her by some in the media will I think make them more dedicated to helping him.”
In contrast to Barack Obama, Palin has executive experience both on the municipal and state level, Heckman says.
“She had to confront the kind of issues that matter to most Americans,” he says. “Experience is partially having dealt with issues and partially having good judgment. She will have the added benefit of being able to work at the feet of the most experienced foreign policy expert in the country — John McCain.”
Criticism of Palin by Democrats and the media reflects an elitist attitude, Heckman says.
“They act like the fact she is from Alaska diminishes her, like there is something wrong with being from Alaska because it’s small in population, and it’s far away and not part of the 48 states,” he says.
Echoing those views, Mike Duncan, chairman of the Republican National Committee, told me on the floor of the convention, “She has given a lot of energy to our base. I believe she has made more executive decisions than Barack Obama has in his three years in the Senate. When he was in the state legislature, he showed his judgment by not voting 130 times.”
“If you are against earmarks and wasteful government spending, she is the type of governor we need,” Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina says. “Governors need to tell the federal government we don’t want your money, we don’t want your control of education or healthcare. She sets a great example for the country and as a vice president will set a great example.”
Rep. John Shadegg of Arizona states, “I find it stunning to compare the way Sarah Palin is being savaged by the mainstream media for issues that have nothing to do with policy,” referring to claims that she could not be vice president and have a family. “Yet the mainstream media would not pick up for months Newsmax stories about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright that had everything to do with policy.”
Shadegg, who has known McCain since before he ran for Congress, said, “Reverand Wright is teaching a set of beliefs that most Americans would not agree with. That we created the AIDS virus to kill off blacks and that America is evil. It’s a hate America first policy. It’s pretty evident, since Barack Obama sat there in the pews of his church for 20 years, that he must have agreed with it.”
“Palin has not only energized the base but has given McCain an opening he would not otherwise have,” Dave Keene told me at a reception given by the American Conservative Union, which he heads. “She symbolizes the working class and middle class that the Democrats say they care about, but in fact that they have disdain for. They have the idea that she is not qualified because she is from a small state, a small town, and went to a land grant college. How dare she. Those are the people they say they are the champions of. They just don’t want to be in the same room with them.”
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
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