MELISSA BLOCK, host:
NPR's Tovia Smith headed to a swing state today to ask women what they think about the choice of Sarah Palin. That swing state: New Hampshire.
And as Tovia found there, McCain's vice presidential pick is a risky one.
TOVIA SMITH: Karen Marketty is exactly the kind of voter John McCain would want to reach: still undecided in the fiercely independent state of New Hampshire and a fan of McCain's 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 the stories about her teenage daughter's pregnancy.
Ms. KAREN MARKETTY: Well, I was - I myself was a young mother. But in this day and age, for her to have a 17-year-old daughter in that condition in the field that she's working in, sounds like she's not in control of everything in her life.
SMITH: Stopping outside a grocery store with her granddaughter in the Republican-leaning town of Derry this morning, Marketty concedes she is still struggling a bit with the issue.
Many voters, like 38-year-old Ann Gilroy, say they have mixed feelings about whether such a personal matter should matter at all, and if so, what it says about Palin.
Ms. ANN GILROY: Can she help manage a country when she can't manage her family? But then, her daughter is 17, I mean, can anybody manage a 17-year-old?
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. GILROY: It's not great, but it happens. So...
SMITH: Gilroy says she's inclined to cut Palin some slack. She says the news of Bristol Palin's pregnancy may even work in Republicans' favor as the candidate appears to be more like a real person who can relate to real families.
It may be risky, but Gilroy says she's happy to see McCain make a pick that is very much in keeping with his maverick brand.
Ms. GILROY: I like it because I don't think he's sticking with the usual that people would expect of him. So the fact that he did pick a female, I think, is great.
SMITH: But other women voters here, even longtime McCain fans, say they're insulted by what they see as unabashed pandering to women.
Ms. MILLIE WILKS: I think there may be women that will vote for her because she's a woman, but I want no part of it. I want the person best qualified in there.
(Soundbite of laughter)
SMITH: Millie Wilks says she wanted nothing more than to see McCain elected last time he ran. She says he was her idol. But not so much anymore. Picking Palin may have been a maverick thing to do...
Ms. WILKS: But it's stupid. He picked a woman he knew so little about before he picked her, and just because she's a woman. I thought, that is really the end of McCain in my book, you know?
SMITH: Wilks says the pick says a lot about McCain's judgment. Karen Marketty, the 48-year-old grandmother, calls the pick offensive. She not only has qualms about Palin, she says, but the fact that McCain chose her leaves her with more doubts about him as well.
Ms. MARKETTY: I thought it was kind of a joke. Like, what are you doing - you're doing this now? I mean, it's so obvious why he's doing it. And it's not really because she's the best running mate, definitely not.
SMITH: But other women say the rush to dismiss Palin is unfair. Mary Lou DiLorenzo(ph), a Republican stay-at-home mom, says she's more likely to vote for McCain now, in part because of Palin's strong anti-abortion position. She says voters should give Palin a chance.
Ms. MARY LI DiLORENZO: She seems like a very organized woman who is obviously juggling a lot of things. And I respect her for that.
SMITH: You think she might be the most qualified woman to fill that slot?
Ms. DiLORENZO: That's a hard thing to say because the most qualified woman may not want that spot.
SMITH: But she's qualified enough for you?
Ms. DiLORENZO: I think so. Absolutely. She seems like a go-getter. She seems like a woman that, I think, if she is inexperienced in certain areas, I think she will dive into it and learn what she needs to learn.
SMITH: As DiLorenzo sees it, Republicans are no more vulnerable on the inexperience question than the Democrats.
As another voter put it, I'd rather have an inexperienced vice president than an inexperienced president.
Tovia Smith, NPR News.
BLOCK: You can listen to NPR's live coverage of the Republican National Convention on many public radio stations and at npr.org.
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