Strategist: Sell Palin As Fellow Maverick
LIANE HANSEN, host:
Democrats are already fired up over John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate. To find out how all of this will change the campaign as it moves forward, we're joined by veteran Democratic campaign consultant Joe Trippi. Welcome, Joe.
Mr. JOE TRIPPI (Democratic Political Strategist): Great to be with you.
HANSEN: So how do you think this decision will affect the race?
Mr. TRIPPI: I would caution Democrats to not get overconfident about this. While I think a lot of Democrats are looking at experience and other things, and sort of, you know, laughing about this pick, I think that's going overboard. It could be a bigger problem than people think.
HANSEN: What about the Hillary Clinton voters and her supporters? Do you think those voters will go for Palin?
Mr. TRIPPI: I don't think many of them do. And I'm not - I don't think Palin is a play towards the Hillary women, although I think a lot of pundits are reading it that way. I actually think this is a sign that McCain's message is going to turn very hard towards ending corruption in Washington and that he and Palin are people who've taken on corruption not just when it was easy, but corruption in their own party, and probably, I think, try to push Obama into - you know, challenge him on that issue.
HANSEN: Sarah Palin is an evangelical, and John McCain seems to be losing some of that vote. Will the choice of Sarah Palin, you think, help that constituency?
Mr. TRIPPI: No, I think there's no question that it has almost immediately electrified the evangelical right and, I think, reinvigorated the McCain candidacy with those people. So if that was part of the decision, then, you know, mission accomplished on that part. I think the problem McCain has right now, there are far more people in the country self-identifying themselves as Democrats and far fewer self-identifying themselves as Republicans. So this candidacy may shore up the Republican right, but you're in a position right now where if enough Democrats just decide they're going to vote for Barack Obama, you can't win. All Obama has to do is solidify his Democratic support. Hillary and Bill Clinton helped do that, I think, at the convention.
So this pick, while solidifying the Republican right behind him, may not serve him in terms of broadening out his message. On the other hand, if he can sell this as a maverick who picked another maverick, two reformers willing to challenge corruption in their own party, now willing to challenge it across the board in Washington, and challenge Barack Obama to match that record and that experience, it starts to get into the turf that Obama has been holding all this time as the change candidate, the new politics candidate. Can McCain somehow morph into that territory? That's how this becomes a brilliant pick. But if that happens, it also means that the Obama campaign was too sanguine, just wasn't in fighting mode to push back on that narrative.
HANSEN: Joe Trippi is a Democratic campaign strategist who has worked on many presidential campaigns, including those of Howard Dean and John Edwards. Thanks for your time.
Mr. TRIPPI: Thank you.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.