As news was breaking Friday of John McCain’s choice for running mate, both sides tried their best to influence the way the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin was going to be reviewed by the news media and the voters of the US.
Most Democrats ridiculed the choice, with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) labeling it “dangerous.”
“The Vice President is a heartbeat away from becoming President, so to choose someone with not one hour’s worth of experience on national issues is a dangerous choice,” said Boxer, who then slapped McCain for trying to gain support from women.
“If John McCain thought that choosing Sarah Palin would attract Hillary Clinton voters, he is badly mistaken,” added Boxer.
Meanwhile, the most important reaction to Palin came from more conservative quarters, especially religious leaders who have been cool to McCain from the outset.
James Dobson, who heads Focus on the Family, now says he thinks he will vote for McCain in November. He told a radio show Friday that the choice electrified a meeting of religious conservatives that he was attending.
“I mean to tell you, it set that crowd on fire,” Dobson told Dennis Prager.
Also giving his support to Palin was Ralph Reed, who told the New York Times, “It is almost impossible to exaggerate how important that is to the conservative faith community.”
In other words, this pick could motivate many more religious conservatives and evangelicals to vote for McCain.
That is a big deal.
As I was waiting for my plane from Denver to Minneapolis, I ran into my colleague David Brody, who is a reporter for the Christian Broadcasting Network. He told me that not only Dobson, but Tony Perkins and many others were absolutely thrilled.
Look at this pick from my point of view as I get ready for the Republican Convention here in Minneapolis.
One of the logical story lines during the convention week would certainly have been finding more conservative delegates – espeically those who had supported Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee – and ask them if they were definitely going to vote for McCain in November.
There would have been easy stories to write about “Conservatives Grumbling Over McCain,” just like we wrote stories about Hillary supporters not wanting to back Obama as the Democratic Convention got underway.
Now, McCain has seemingly brought the evangelical Christian Right onto his bandwagon.
As for women who supported Hillary, I don’t believe they are going to go en masse over to McCain because of this pick, especially since Palin is against abortion.
But even if you get a few here and there, that’s better than none. And if McCain is getting more conservatives voting for him, that’s even better.
This has been a fascinating day, because the choice was so outside the “political consensus” that everyone seems to be all over the place in how they are reacting to the choice.
I like stories like that, because when things are predictable, you can write those stories in your sleep.