GOP Delegates In St. Paul React To Gov. Sarah Palin
SCOTT SIMON, host:
The Republican National Convention begins Monday in Saint Paul, but many delegates have been meeting all week in Minneapolis to hammer out a platform and revise the party's rules. That activity stopped short yesterday for John McCain's announcement that Sarah Palin will be his running mate. NPR's David Welna reports the delegates in Minneapolis watched it all unfold on television and mostly liked what they saw.
DAVID WELNA: For Republican convention delegate Vickie Davis of Walker, Louisiana, the best thing about Sarah Palin is her strong opposition to abortion. Palin to her is even more conservative than John McCain, and she says that's good.
Ms. VICKIE DAVIS (Louisiana Delegate, Republican National Convention): We're excited, we're elated. I couldn't be happier. And I think she's the perfect choice because in four years, we may get to nominate her for president.
WELNA: And not McCain?
Ms. DAVIS: We'll just have to see.
WELNA: And while Barack Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, hails from Scranton, Pennsylvania, delegate Peg Ferraro of Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley region thinks Sarah Palin will actually boost John McCain's prospects for winning that state.
Ms. PEG FERRARO (Pennsylvania Delegate, Republican National Convention): I was impressed that she had Democrats and independents in her cabinet. She has strong union ties. And Pennsylvania being a key swing state, if we can just swing six percent of the vote from the 2004 election, I think we can carry Pennsylvania.
WELNA: Delegate Thatcher Stone(ph) of New York City says McCain's decision to run with a woman was a very smart choice.
Mr. THATCHER STONE (New York Delegate, Republican National Convention): Because Barack Obama has spent the last 18 months trying to beat a lady from being president, now he's going to have to spend the next two months keeping all the women in America from voting for another lady for vice president. So I think it was a brilliant move. And I think in retrospect, Obama's failure to put Hillary on the ticket will go down as the biggest political blunder of the century.
WELNA: Still, most GOP delegates had not expected a McCain-Palin ticket. Here's Mississippi Republican Party Chairman James Herring.
Mr. JAMES HERRING (Chairman, Mississippi Republican Party): I was surprised at the choice, and I think most of us were. But having heard her make her speech, I think all of us are excited for her.
WELNA: Is she ready to be commander in chief? She'd be a heartbeat away from the presidency.
Mr. HERRING: With a little time, well, she'll make a great vice president and will be ready. Hopefully, that won't ever happen.
WELNA: Other Republican leaders were more guarded by the 44-year-old first-term governor's readiness to step in as president. Jan Staples is from Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
Ms. JAN STAPLES (Maine Delegate, Republican National Convention): She is not prepared in the sense that she hasn't dealt with some of the issues that a commander in chief will need to deal with. On the other hand, she's in the second spot, not the first spot.
WELNA: Rhode Island's Robert Manning said the real issue is Barack Obama's level of experience, not Sarah Palin's.
Mr. ROBERT MANNING (Rhode Island Delegate, Republican National Convention): One can probably pretty safely assume that her foreign experience is somewhat limited. If you ask me whether I'd have a preference of having somebody inexperienced as vice president versus having somebody inexperienced as president, I will tell you that I'd rather have somebody inexperienced as vice president.
WELNA: Manning and other GOP delegates played down a probe by Alaska's legislature into whether Palin abused her power by trying to get her sister's ex-husband fired from the state police. Like many, Beverly Willard of Carson City, Nevada, accentuated the positive.
Ms. BEVERLY WILLARD (Nevada Delegate, Republican National Convention): I think it was a fabulous choice. I think she hit a homerun right out of the ballpark.
WELNA: David Welna, NPR News, at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
SIMON: And you can read a profile of Governor Palin and her introductory speech on our Web site, npr.org.
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