Palin a difficult target for Obama


John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate presents the Obama-Biden campaign with an unwelcome and unexpected challenge: How do you go after a 44-year-old mother of five without once alienating the female voters you’ve just spent the last week trying to win back?

The answer so far: Not very well.

Minutes after the McCain campaign confirmed that Palin would be the Republican’s VP pick, Obama spokesman Bill Burton dismissed the Alaska governor as a lightweight.

McCain, he said, had put "the former mayor of a town of 9,000, with zero foreign policy experience, a heartbeat away from the presidency."

Almost immediately, the campaign seemed to reconsider its tough-guy approach.

In a statement distributed by the campaign, Barack Obama and Joe Biden said Palin’s selection was “yet another encouraging sign that old barriers are falling in our politics. While we obviously have differences over how best to lead this country forward, Gov. Palin is an admirable person and will add a compelling new voice to this campaign.”


Many of Clinton’s supporters continue to believe that sexism played a large role in her defeat.

“I would say to the Democrats, regarding sexism, ‘Tag, you’re it,'” said Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway. “Everyone likes to say you are sexist if you don’t vote for Hillary Clinton, but what about all the women who are not going to vote for Sarah Palin?”

Political strategists who specialize in female voting patterns warned Democrats to use caution when attacking Palin.

Many cited the 2000 New York Senate race between Rick Lazio and Clinton as an example of the types of moves that Biden must avoid. In the debates, Lazio walked across the stage to Clinton's podium to demand she sign a pledge banning soft money.

The move injected gender into the campaign; afterward, critics said Lazio walked over to physically intimidate Clinton.

Biden must be authoritative, say political consultants, but avoid seeming condescending.

“This is someone who is already known for puffery and verbosity,” said Conway. “And we will be looking out for the sexist treatment of Gov. Palin.”

Palin’s socially conservative record provides other challenges. The staunch anti-abortion conservative lives her gospel: Palin gave birth to her youngest son after early testing found he had Down syndrome, a fact that intimately personalizes any abortion attacks.

Karl Rove whose political instincts are usually on the money immediately tagged the original statement as a mistake and it appears wiser heads in the Obama camp eventually prevailed. It is interesting how easily Obama can dismiss prior inconvenient statements. It is a real talent. I suspect that most of the attacks will come from the radical feminist wing of the Democrats. It will not help their case. It will make them look shrill and small. As mentioned below, Hillary has the better approach.


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