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McCain's VP Choice: 'Sarah Barracuda'

Posted by: Dan Beucke on August 29

By Keith Epstein
To Alaskans – both allies and adversaries – Sarah Palin, 44, is known as “Sarah Barracuda,” a nickname that goes back to her days as an aggressive basketball player. Noted the Anchorage Daily News in an Oct. 23, 2006 profile : “Supporters consider the name a testament to her aggressive play and ferocious defense. But opponents said the name capture a predatory instinct that Palin could turn on friend as well as foe.”

Basketball was a major influence in her life, to tell by comments she’s made to reporters. “I know this sounds hokey,” she told the Anchorage paper, “but basketball was a life-changing experience for me,” and it taught her “about setting a goal, about discipline, teamwork, and then success.” Voters just might get to hear about it again now; reported the newspaper in 2006: “Palin has been telling interviewers about the 1982 state tournament at West High…for at least a decade, including the self-effacing line about its being ‘hokey.’”

Some personal details on the nominee, the first woman governor of the state known as the last frontier, suggest themes the Republicans will be able to underscore that align with party positions:

-- In April, she had a baby with Down syndrome; she chose to keep the baby and face the challenges involved rather than have an abortion.

-- In response to concerns about high energy costs, she proposed a $100 monthly debit card for Alaskans, subsidized by Alaska’s budget surplus.

-- She is the mother of a soldier who leaves for Iraq this September.

-- A member of the National Rifle Association, she hunts moose.

-- She eloped with her husband, who is a native Alaskan of the Yup’ik tribe. Todd Palin has been an oil field worker; he was a production operator on the North Slope for BP for some two decades.

McCain has certainly picked someone from well outside the Beltway who, like Obama, has a multi-ethnic, far-flung family history. Unlike Obama, McCain has chosen the first woman on a national ticket since Geraldine Ferraro was on the Democratic ticket in 1984 – something that suggests he’s reaching out to women. Hillary Clinton supporters won’t necessarily cross the divide, but female independents and Republicans just might be persuaded. Like McCain, Palin has cast herself as a reformer and an maverick outsider – and that has led to success in her home state.

The selection of Palin, who has only been in office since 2006, also seems to move issues of inexperience off the table, at least as far as Republicans criticizing Obama. Palin also has had a lot to learn – but has a personal touch. The Anchorage Daily News reported in 2006 that at a convention of chiropractors she “had little specific to offer on the group’s complicated legal and Medicaid questions.” Even so, “she showed her ability to relate to audiences in a personal, almost Clintonlike way.”

The McCain campaign, in a Aug. 29 statement just before their scheduled appearance in Dayton, Ohio, called her “a tough executive” who has “challenged the influence of the big oil companies,” as well as “a corrupt system” of leaders in Alaska. She cut spending, the campaign says, and put a stop to the “Bridge to Nowhere.”

Palin appears to have been fairly friendly to energy interests in oil- and natural gas-rich Alaska. Her administration in August secured legislative approval to license the largest construction project ever undertaken in North America, a 1,715-mile natural gas pipeline to Canada from Alaska’s North Slope. TransCanada Alaska will beuilt the pipeline, expected to move 4.5 billion cubic feet of gas daily from Prudhoe Bay to Canada. While that was celebrated as a major political victory in Alaska, she also has endured criticism – and an independent investigation ordered up by the state legislature – for the firing of a state trooper . He was an ex-brother-in-law.

Reader Comments

Joe Stratford

August 29, 2008 12:43 PM

Wow, you are defaming the girl already? It hasn't been an hour!

O's troops must be scared that they will lose Alaska :-)

Lee R.

August 29, 2008 01:04 PM

Now, can we please forget about Hillary!

Obama's Mama

August 29, 2008 01:34 PM

Palin should kiss the ground Hillary walks on...The wrong woman was picked....

Mike Reardon

August 29, 2008 01:40 PM

Palin was probably picked because she brings a Jimmy Carter style of outside Washington honesty to the campaign. The thing there is like Carter she probably knows little to nothing about working inside the House and Senate. You have to think she will be for North Shore Drilling and moving Natural Gas to the markets, even if its Canadian market, and that’s all the country needs as far as the Republicans can see. It does really undercuts the new untested Obama line as being any test of National leadership.

nancy cersonsky

August 29, 2008 02:16 PM

This is a woman who has been mayor of a very small Alaskan town and only been Governor for 2 years? I'm not sure they do much foreign policy up in Alaska.

I assume that this is McCain's attempt to pander to my gender by adding a woman to the ticket, but I can't imagine what they are thinking. She would be the second in command should the (quite old) McCain not be able to complete his term??????

susan ostanik

August 29, 2008 02:41 PM

John McCain,who is this woman?? You are older,a cancer survivor and can't leave us with this! Nothing. NO SUBSTANCE, I am almost sure this is the last straw in my turn for Obama. Thats alot for a 60 yr. Republcan


August 29, 2008 03:07 PM

I am very intrigued with the use of "pro-choice" in this write up, and its being defined as choosing to keep the baby rather than have an abortion. I find it most interesting because, although it is the correct definition of the term, if a Democratic candidate (or regular joe citizen) states they are "pro-choice" it is automatically coined to mean "pro-abortion."

As for this lady, I have no clue. While she is an attractive lady, and possibly even intelligent (who is she?), she has no known experience with federal government matters, and I am not sure that it is fair to critique her as a state leader as she has not even completed her first term as Governor.

Additionally, I find this decision by McCain to be insulting to women who in any way support the feminist movement. It seems that his read of these American women is that they just wanted any woman on the ticket. That is ridiculous, the women who supported Hillary thought she was the experienced leader this country needed. These women agreed with Hillary's politics and honestly found her to be the best woman for the oval office. What a slap in the face to all self-respecting and strong women to think that any woman, regardless of her experience and politics. Apparently McCain thinks that that Hillary supporters have no backbone and lose their values with ease.

While it may be true that this lady is a nice person, I pray that Hillary supporters will be smarter than McCain gives them credit for...ignore the smoke and mirrors.

The Realist

August 29, 2008 03:08 PM

Interesting that she is being hit so hard so quickly. Seems like this choice blindsided many in the democratic party and in the national media.

Could it be that as 'old' and 'boring' as McCain is he is more cunning than we expected. Like him or not this should tell us something about his abilities. Despite all the immediate slander I already like Palin.

Choosing a VP that has a nickname with 'Baraccuda' in it is gutsy.

Kudos where they are due. This was a brillant move.

Palin Fan (Male)

August 29, 2008 03:18 PM

Susan and Nancy, read up on Gov. Palin before you throw her under the bus and claim no "substance" and that teh chose is to "pander to...gender". This lady has more class and guts and character than any politician in Washington or any where else in the United States. I will have to question the two of you for casting such judgement from a niave position as you have stated for think that this lady has no substance, then I would question your character to decide just what is substance.

Gma Judy

August 29, 2008 04:11 PM

I am a 66 year old conservative woman and I have not been this engerized by a candidate in many years. I have never outwardly advertised my preferences, but I am looking for a McCain/Palin bumper sticker. A pro-life woman that belongs to the NRA and believes strongly in God and Country? Be still my heart. Where is my checkbook?


August 29, 2008 04:29 PM

I think its time to shut down the media so that Americans can learn to think for themselves again.

As a woman, I'm still trying to figure out what a junior senator who hasn't completed one full term in our government has definitively accomplished on behalf of the American people.

While Sarah Barracuda may be young as is Obama, I give her huge credit for managing the affairs of state government and standing up to the Goliaths of oil and corruption.

Up to now after Hilary's defeat, I've been undecided on choice for this year's election, but I can say that Stubborn McCain and Barracuda Palin are looking most promising in keeping the United States from becoming a bomb crater cavity on the North American continent when nuclear militarized Russia and nuclear militarized China start their global bullying for domination of oil pipeline control as is being seen now in Georgia.

Almost average male US citizen

August 29, 2008 04:58 PM

Most interesting.

I cant wait to see how biased the media industry will be for/against Sarah Palin.

Gender? Color? Pro Life/Choice. Come on - get to the real issues. The Average American simply does not care. Guess it is all about making good media and making yourself heard. Obviously those whom shout loudest, are more honest, truthful and will lead better - RIGHT?

I'm tired of the crock and b.s. on both sides and its time to clean house.

You go Sarah Barracuda, you have my attention.


August 29, 2008 05:32 PM

Obama, made a major political mistake on not getting Hillary. Period!
McCain helped his campaign by picking another maverick and female who can stand up to anyone. A new inspiring pick the republicans need. She has 80 percent approval in Alaska.
Obama is a smart inspiring speaker, but Palin's actions speak louder than political words. She has fought corruption in both parties in Alaska. When she speaks she says it like it is, unlike polished career politicians. Some people can talk the talk, but Palin can walk the walk.
Now the race is exciting! History will be made period with either Obama or McCain!


August 29, 2008 05:46 PM

Im not even American and I'd vote for McCain/Palin...
Kudos for McCain..


August 29, 2008 06:16 PM

Mr. McCain has out done himself....again. From all indications, Mrs. Palin has not been outside of Alaska (except college in Indiana)for most of her life. She has experience as a TV reporter, A mayor in a town with 5,000 residents, Gov. of Alaska for less than two (2) years, she fishes, hunts (a life time member of the NRA) and has babies.Oh, by the way, it is rumored that she has ongoing issues with a ex-brother-in-law. My question is, with all of the tenacity that she is purported to have, What happens when Mr McCain is in the hospital and the phone rings at 3AM?????


August 29, 2008 09:25 PM

McCain obviously think that americans are stupid. He demonstrated that with his ads and now with his vp choice.


August 29, 2008 11:07 PM

Okay so I've read both positive and negative about Gov. Plain. I feel like saying my piece. First of all, I was not happy about many of the "short list" candidates McCain had. The V.P. choice was what my final determining factor would be. Not for either McCain or Obama, but whether or not to vote for Pres. Since McCain has chosen an individual that seems to be more "humanistic" than most politicians, I go McCain/Palin 2008

mary Gay Gordon

August 29, 2008 11:38 PM

I am angered by the ignorance of MCCain to think that our Nation could be entrusted to a self-proclaimed Hockey Mom. Nothing against Ms. Palin but McCain has had a brain clot. I am outraged and will now vote for Obama. So sad, so very sad - Mccain - are you thinking at all?


August 29, 2008 11:44 PM

What it comes down to is inexperience.
.. on the side of the democraps. they talked about how obama is very much like the great jfk, who was young and upcoming with little experience but could unite a nation.
they compare obama as being the same, ..only its "hisotric" and new( black)
the funny thing is, palin has that much more ability beacause she has actual experience running and conducting matters. rather than just voting present 80% of the time (ie. Obama)
the point being, this woman is more qualified to be president than obama is even with her two years, but the little note of interest is, she not running for president. He is.
And as Joe Biden said, the presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training. I think its also funny that he advocated McCain BEFORE his nomination for vp. But then retracted it after. Just like his criticisms of obama. Typical of the selfserving and the population panderers.
Obama has NO experiece.
No foreign expereince
And while biden may have some "experience" in these matters, what good is it if your wrong about policies most of the time?
and Im sick of hearing the advocates and the ignorant promoters of obama who have endorsed him because of the "moving" speeches he's given. Hitler moved and swayed a nation but down the wrong path. look past the glitter of the candidate and into not only the policies of the candidate, but the choices and substance of the person themselves. Obama, has nothing, but a list of questionable doctrines taught to him by a black anti american activist. Posing, as a preacher. read his books and educate yourselfs. he's no different. Change? Yes
For the better? No
The Obama campaign has nothing to recommend them. and those that are foolish, or ignorant enough to vote for him will regret it. Change is inevitable, but we dont have to support one who will not only take us away from our principles as a country but set us back economically. that is what you are voting for with the obama campaign. Change- for the worst


August 30, 2008 01:40 AM

To Cwhitaker - I believe Mrs. Palin walked outside of Alaska to visit wounded troops in Germany. And what will she do taking a 3a.m. call with a sick McCain? What really great moms do at 3 a.m. when the kids are sick...get up, assess the situation, roll up the sleeves and start cleaning up the puke without complaining. In plain english, she'll kick @$$ and take names later. Just ask those Alaskan Dems and Repubs who got their @$$e$ kicked when found guilty of corruption. Do YOU Cwhitaker, know how to bring down a moose?


August 30, 2008 02:54 AM

It is good to see that the issue of inexperience is back on the table.
Palin, the potential VP has more experience as a chief executive than Obama, the potential President.


August 30, 2008 04:56 AM

To Mmussell,

Are you serious? How can the Obama/Biden choice possibly "set us back economically?" We're already back! Bush and his Republican regime have seen to it. Have you seen the nightly news reports. Katie Couric and Brian Williams have been reporting on the housing market and poor economy for nearly a year and a half, now. Bush has us fighting on two fronts; and let's not forget that the WMDs-the reason we went to Iraq to begin with, were NEVER found. We need some new blood in the White House. Besides, running Alaska for 18 months is NOT the same as running America if Mcain gets ill. Period! Palin was a very poor choice, to say the least; and if he's elected, the only thing Mcain has done by picking this lady is insure that, if he gets sick, China and everybody else who takes a notion, will try us.


August 30, 2008 11:30 AM

I am excited at the choice of Palin for VP, not only does she have executive experience, which Obama lacks, she is used to getting up at 3 in the morning, and oh yeah, she even knows how many states are in the Union...only 50!


August 30, 2008 12:20 PM

What-already putting Palin down!
Obama has no experience running anything-oh I forgot he did run some shady group with buddy Billy Ayers and he is at the top of the Democratic ticket! What a mess this nation will be with the great speech giver as commander in chief.
The mainstream media better watch their step after what they did to HC. Let's see how she does on the campaign trail. I congratulate McCain on selecting her and will never forgive BO for dissing HC.


August 30, 2008 03:33 PM

I am 48 years old. I know very little about computers, my eyesight has started to dim. A vote for McCain for President is a vote for Palin for President. McCain is an old man who can go any day now. Bottom line.

citizen K.

August 30, 2008 10:15 PM


James Solbakken

August 30, 2008 10:27 PM

Michael Savage said he thought McCain was taking a dive by choosing Palin the moose muncher.

I would have voted for a Jean Kirkpatrick, Phyllis Schlafly, or Margaret Thatcher. My heart won't stop fluttering at the prospect that she will be like them, and more.

I was planning to vote for Chuck Baldwin, but now I might vote for the moose muncher instead.

8 years as vp sounds like the experience she needs to serve an effective 8 years as Madame President.

Col, USMC, ret.

August 31, 2008 12:09 AM

Sarah Palin has much more succesful executive experience than Obama and Biden combined. If you want real change, Sarah is THE ONE. And there is no doubt about her patriotism and love for our country.

She is highly intelligent and will quickly learn whatever she needs to know. McCain and Palin, a team that will make us strong and proud!


August 31, 2008 11:00 AM

I think Mrs. Palin is energizing the base and turning-off a majority of moderates. It's a positive for the Democrats. McCain took a gamble and I can't see it paying off...unless she is THAT good. She does make a good first impression but I cannot understand she chose to have her baby after learning he had Down Syndrome. Too much a "believer" for me.


August 31, 2008 12:06 PM

i ask a question

is it really possible to be a catholic and pro abortion ?

biden mentioned his faith 100 times in last 48 hours


August 31, 2008 06:16 PM

Obama blinked with Biden

McCain stuck it in their eye!

Iron Mike

September 1, 2008 05:58 PM

Looking forward to seeing great things from Sarah Barracuda in the fall. She is an outstanding selection that in my opinion has sealed the election deal for McCain.

Bill W.

September 5, 2008 11:33 AM

As an Independent, I really question McCain's judgment and MOTIVES. Of all the qualified candidates, both men and women, he pulls this stunt. Sorry, I have to go with Obama. I've never been more ashamed of the Republican party.

Thank you for your interest. This blog is no longer active.


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