Palin announced as McCain’s VP choice

By Alyssa Creamer

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain announced Republican Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate on Aug. 29 in Dayton, Ohio amidst much controversy and skepticism.

Many University of Massachusetts students expressed bewilderment at Palin’s selection, stating that they feel she lacks experience. She has fewer than two years in office as the 11th female governor and the first of Alaska. Palin’s political career also includes a two-term service on the Wasilla City Council and two terms as mayor/manager of Wasilla, an Alaskan town with an estimated population of 8,471 according to the U.S. Census Bureau as of 2005.

“John McCain in the past has been such an independent Republican, in the middle politically and not completely right-wing conservative,” said Cam Dunbar. “And Sarah Palin is the ultimate Republican – opposes abortion. I think it was a very smart choice to get the evangelical and Christian votes McCain wants, but I don’t think it’s a smart choice to get the Hillary Clinton votes because Palin and Clinton are completely different women with completely different views.

Dunbar said she has no experience with foreign policy, and if McCain is elected for eight years, it’s very possible that Palin could be president with little experience in foreign affairs.

However, some students disagree, sensing that McCain wisely believes that Palin will draw in greater numbers of female votes and strategically take away attention from the Obama campaign.

“It’s a brilliant political choice,” said senior political science teaching Assistant Reuven Dashevsky. “Because after the whole fight between Obama and Clinton, a lot of Clinton’s feminist supporters were upset that she had lost. And even though [Palin] is a conservative woman, [McCain] might be able to draw those votes. Also, the timing of [his announcement] was right around the time of Obama’s speech at the Democratic convention and deflected any press from focusing on what should have been ‘Democratic time,’ which is what politics is all about, I guess.”

President of the UMass Republican Club senior Greg Collins agrees that Palin has less experience than McCain’s other potential choices might have.

“Even though she does not have a lot of experience, she is only running for vice president, not president,” Collins said. “Plus, she is a good choice for McCain to mobilize a Republican base, because she has more conservative views than he does.”

The Republican club’s vice president Brad DeFlumeri believes Palin “is a solid, social conservative, who has done a great job ridding Alaska of political corruption by taking on oil companies,” DeFlumeri said. “Palin is not going to play by standard political rules, but instead pave her own way.”

Recently, the press has focused its reporting on Palin’s unmarried, 17-year-old daughter Bristol’s pregnancy. Several students believe that this scandal, along with the fact that Palin is 44 years old and the first female to be chosen as a Republican running mate, makes her a more attractive running mate to some voters. They believe it consequently makes McCain appear to have a “different mindset” from “the same old, white man that enters the White House each year.”

“I think it’s just strategic for McCain to pick Palin so that he can win over everyone by having something controversial to make him appear different,” Sophomore Lizzie Severanze said. “Palin has a son that’s going to war, and her daughter is pregnant.”

“On parishilton.com, a celebrity gossip Web site, there are pictures of her daughter drinking,” said freshman Kelly Zeoli, “And I know that people shouldn’t judge her for that. But people might say, ‘oh, if she can’t control her own kid, how well will she do as vice president?'”

However, avid pro-life supporters at UMass say they “breathe more easily” knowing Palin’s daughter is choosing to keep the child.

“[Teen pregnancy] is what happens in real life,” DeFlumeri said. “It’s wonderful she’s having the baby rather than aborting it.”

Alyssa Creamer can be reached at [email protected]