McCain's VP Pick Puzzles His Supporters In N.H.

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When John McCain announced last week that he had picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate, not a lot of people knew much about her. Since then, Palin has been dogged by news that she is involved in an ethics investigation and that her unmarried 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. McCain won the Republican primary in New Hampshire, where female voters said they're puzzled by his choice for a running mate.

Battleground New Hampshire Reacts To Palin

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Arizona Sen. John McCain's choice for vice president is clearly a bid for female voters.

The campaign is hoping that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will help attract some all-important independents, as well as disappointed fans of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton — especially in key battleground states such as Ohio, Florida and New Hampshire.

But as voters begin to digest the news and get to know Palin, it seems as though her selection may hurt as well as help the McCain camp.

While some women in the fiercely independent state of New Hampshire say that McCain's pick is in line with his maverick image, others wonder whether Palin can lead while also caring for her large family. Still other women feel insulted by a decision they see as overtly catering to them.

Palin's Family Woes Trouble Some Voters

New Hampshire resident Karen Marketty is exactly the kind of voter that McCain would want to reach. She is still undecided and calls herself a fan of McCain in the past. But Marketty, a 48-year-old grandmother, says she is less inclined to vote Republican since getting to know Palin and hearing that the Alaska governor's teenage daughter is pregnant.

"I myself was young mother," she says. "But in this day and age, to have a kid in that condition, in her field, sounds like she's not in control of everything in her life."

Many voters, including 38-year-old Ann Gilroy, say they have mixed feelings about whether such a personal issue should matter at all, and if so, what it says about Palin.

"Can she help manage a country, if she can't manage family?" Gilroy asks. "But who can manage a 17-year-old?"

Palin In Keeping With McCain's Maverick Brand?

Gilroy says she is inclined to cut Palin some slack. She says the news of Palin's daughter's pregnancy may even work in Republicans' favor: It makes Palin appear more like a real person who can relate to real families.

It may be risky, but Gilroy says that she is happy to see McCain make a pick that is very much in keeping with his maverick brand.

But other female voters here, and even longtime McCain fans, say they are insulted by what they see as an unabashed pandering to women.

"I think there may be women who will vote for her because she's a woman, but I want no part of it," says Millie Wilks. "I want the person best qualified in there."

Wilks says she wanted nothing more than to see McCain elected last time around, and she says that picking Palin was a maverick thing to do. "But it's stupid. He picked a woman he knew little about just because she's a woman," she says. "That is really the end of McCain in my book."

Issues Also Factor Into Support of Palin

Mary Li DiLorenzo is a Republican stay-at-home mother who says she is more likely to vote for McCain now, in part because of Palin's strong anti-abortion position.

She says that voters should give Palin a chance. As DiLorenzo sees it, Republicans are no more vulnerable on the inexperience question than the Democrats.

Or as another voter put it, some would rather have an inexperienced vice president than an inexperienced president.



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