Saturday, September 6, 2008

Analysis of McCain Running Mate Choice

The Hat Trick realizes he promised a post on his views of Governor Palin and Senator McCain choosing her to be his running mate. Unfortunately the Hat Trick’s day job got in the way…plus I also admit having a lot of mixed feelings about the pick. The Hat Trick sees this pick as both good and bad…the Governor did a fantastic job in her speech Wednesday night. She was poised, funny, serious and connected with the GOP delegates. She discussed energy issues and showed that she probably knows more about energy issues then Senators McCain, Biden and Obama. She also brings the GOP base vote together which is critical and has been a problematic area for Senator McCain given his maverick image and having gone against conservatives on many issues such as campaign finance reform and climate change. The Hat Trick thinks that having Palin could be critical in a state like Ohio: Senator John Kerry lost Ohio in 2004 because evangelical Christians came out and voted for President Bush in enough force to allow him to win Ohio and the election. If the 2008 contest comes down again to Ohio (although other states, noticeably Virginia, are in play this year) the excitement Governor Palin brings to the ticket could be the deciding factor in winning the state. An excited conservative base could really bring out the conservative vote in Ohio, plus potentially attracting some conservative Democratic support that went to Senator Clinton in the Democratic Primary. This could be enough to blunt Senator Obama’s excitement and get out the vote efforts with minority voters within the urban centers of the state (Cleveland, Columbus). Once again the presidential contest could come down to Ohio.

However, the Hat Trick really is concerned about Governor Palin’s lack of experience in national governance. One of the biggest critiques against Senator Obama is relative lack of experience with having served just under four years in the United States Senate. The argument that Palin has “executive experience” resonates with the Hat Trick but the Hat Trick is a lobbyist and political junkie…the average voter may not be as impressed with the difference…or even care…or even understand the difference. Senator McCain will be the oldest person to begin his Presidency if he wins and it is relevant to ask if Palin can take over if Senator McCain dies. A colleague of the Hat Trick thinks that Senator McCain will never finish his presidency…the Hat Trick isn’t so sure of that after watching Senator McCain’s 96 year old mother at the GOP convention but you never know. Ultimately the Hat Trick is going to associate his views with that of syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer who sums up his (and my) concerns over the pick in his column yesterday.

Time will tell if Governor Palin can handle the arena of national politics. Her start looks good but it’s a long campaign and she will have to debate Senator Joe Biden in October, a politician with tremendous experience on the national scene. While the Hat Trick is always favorable of giving someone a chance to prove themselves, the stakes are so high in this case that the experience level, or lack of with Palin, is going to cause some skittishness in the coming weeks.

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