Defending the “Palin Pick”

Most of you know I’d rather post photos of my family and write about Alaska than talk about politics.  But after reading and watching some recent commentary, I can’t help myself.

The chattering class is talking – endlessly – about Mitt Romney’s choice of a Vice Presidential running mate.  Will he choose a Governor?  A Senator?  A Congressman?  There are many good options for Governor Romney – and all of them have already been dissected in the media – with a list of pros and cons beside their names.  One is too “northern,” another is too “boring,” another is too “white.”  I’ve lived through the scrutiny the family will endure, and it can be a nightmare.

I don’t pretend to know the best pick for Governor Romney.  But there’s one theme that keeps coming up, and it’s ridiculous: that Governor Romney should avoid Senator McCain’s mistake in his Vice Presidential running mate decision.

Chris Cillizza brought it up here:

If you buy that basic way of thinking about the race, it makes it more likely that Romney’s main criteria in picking a running mate will be to do no harm, to avoid the public relations debacle that Senator John McCain (Ariz.) courted when he named former Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential pick in 2008.

Later, he describes the GOP as a “party still trying to get out from under the Palin pick.”

Talking Points Memo in an article titled, “Why Mitt Romney Won’t Take GOP Down Another VP Rabbit Hole” quoted a strategist who said my mom is “a case study on what not to do. The McCain campaign really screwed up by going in and picking someone who was just gonna shake up the ticket when they should have picked someone who’s safe.”

In other words, the pundits say Senator McCain made a huge mistake. But where’s the evidence to back up this conventional wisdom?  I’m not a pundit, but I remember the race.  I was there. I remember the frenzied crowds after my mom joined the ticket.  I remember the huge fundraising surge.  I remember her convention speech.  I even remember how McCain/Palin took a polling lead over Obama/Biden.

Then the economy melted down.  You could feel people’s fear.  You could see it in their eyes on the trail.  McCain suspended his campaign to rush back to Washington to deal with the crisis.  A lot of people criticized him, but he did what he thought was right.  And guess what, the economy was melting down while Republicans were in charge.

Take a good look at this list of polls.  Shortly after Senator McCain picked my mom, the polls turned favorable.  But he lost the lead for good the week he suspended his campaign, and we never got it back.  Not in a single poll.

But even then, my Mom helped.  A lot.  She raised millions of dollars that helped us fight hard until the last moment. And Senator McCain actually performed better among those for whom the “Palin Pick” was very important to their voteImmediate post-election polling shows a large majority of Republicans thought my mom helped Senator McCain and more than 90% had a favorable or very favorable view of her.

(By the way, pundits, do you guys do much research before slamming my mom?  It didn’t take me long at all to find the facts that refute your so-called “conventional wisdom.”)

OCTOBER 22, 2008: Mom greets supporters during a campaign rally at the Green High School Memorial Stadium in Ohio, with less than two weeks left before the election.

I don’t write this post to criticize Senator McCain – far from it.  He and my mom had an uphill battle against Obama who promised to stop the oceans’ rise and heal the planet. I honestly don’t think any Republican candidate could’ve beaten Obama in 2008.  It was the Democrats’ moment.

But 2012 is a Republican moment. Whomever Governor Romney picks will be better qualified to run the country than our current President.  And this time around, we’re not running against the hard-to-pin-down “hope and change,” we’re running against a President who can’t stop rising gas prices, much less rising oceans.


Mom answered the call to serve her country, energized the base, and inspired millions. Plus, she did it with good humor and grace.  I don’t know what else she could’ve reasonably be expected to do.

The economy was collapsing, and the Democrats had nominated “The One.”  My mom worked wonders, and it was such a joy watching her connect with Americans from coast to coast.  But she could not work miracles.

It’s been four years now since Senator McCain selected my mom, and he made the right choice. Who will Governor Romney select as his running mate?  Well, we’ve still got several months before we find out.

Whoever it turns out to be, I don’t envy the next vice-presidential nominee.

After all… Sarah Palin is a tough act to follow.

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  • Michael Katz

    Bristol, you are so right. The only reason I voted for McCain was because your mom was on the ticket. If he had picked someone “safe,” I would have used my cat Humphrey as a write-in vote. If your mom wasn’t on the ticket, Obama would have won in a landslide.

  • M Porter

    The only difficulty your Mom had as McCain’s pick was her lack of ability to convince conservatives that McCain was conservative. Not her problem, McCain’s problem.
    Sarah represents something that terrifies the progressives and liberals of the media and that is why they make it regular practice to drive home the idea of her being some kind of a mistake. A Sarah type of pick is exactly what Romney needs to solidify the conservative bases and to boost fund raising.
    I think it is hilarious to watch these liberal talking heads lecture conservatives on what is best for a conservative to win. You can pretty much guess that opposite of whatever the say to do or not to do is what should be done.
    Immediately after the 2008 election, the campaign of the media to deter the nomination of Sarah for president began by falsely beating the mantra of unelectable. Her popularity among Christian conservatives, Tea party, CPAC and the truly average American is what scares them.
    If she was so unelectable or a mistake, then how is it that her endorsements of other candidates has such a high rate of success?
    If she was so unelectable, then why did nearly every network carry her news conference live, announcing that she would not seek the nomination?
    The attention the left gives her is proof that she represents much more.

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  • Adam Erickson

    Look, before you say you’ve “refuted” anything or you have done more research than others it is important to realize that there is no objective answer to whether or not Sarah Palin was a good pick. We know what happened, we can never know what COULD have happened. But the problem with your post is this – yes, she excited CONSERVATIVES a lot for god knows why reasons, but she frightened independents. They thought she was naive, inexperienced, and not the brightest bulb. Establishment republicans saw this too. Above average intelligence Americans saw her and thought ” . . . Really?”. That is why Obama won the swing voters.

  • Joyce Carter

    Bristol, I totally agree with everything you said. Keep fighting the good fight!
    I watch your show, love you and your mom! God bless you!

  • Catarina

    Yes your mom got votes. That was why she was chosen. To get VOTES. Not because people thought she was actually qualified to be next-in-line for president. She was all style and no substance and I think once America realized that, the McCain-Palin ticket lost all hope of winning the election. What these pundits are saying is that the GOP Party needs a running mate who is intelligent and experienced – not just someone who is attractive and charismatic. I will gladly provide you evidence that picking your mom was a mistake (although I am still awaiting your evidence to your claim that children are raised better by a man and woman than a same-sex couple). So why don’t we look at the fact that your mom left her governor post before her term ended, became a reality tv star (along with you) and have made many thoughtless, controversial remarks over these past few years (Giffords anyone)? From an outsider’s point of view, you have to see where we’re coming from and it’s not completely because the media insists on extorting everything. Even now, we have people such as Dick Cheney, Barbara Bush, Bill O’Reilly (who your mom worked with), Roger Ailes (your mom’s boss) and HER CAMPAIGN ADVISERS that express their belief that picking her was a big mistake.

    • Lily

      THANK YOU!!!!!

    • Toni

      I love the irony of the “all style, and no substance” comment. I could hardly think of a better description for the current President of the United States.

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  • gene trower

    Too bad it wasn’t Sarah Palin running for President. Too bad she isn’t president. We couldn’t have the mess we have today if she were the president.

    Oh Well,



  • Jean

    Why don’t you go talk to a telepromter. The author of the President of US.

  • myj

    Because she don”t have enough on her hand :-(