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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  • Chuck Quinn

    You go girl!! Your mom is great!! The truth will always win !! People like sam will always be the background noise !! Thats all they are, just like the present vp.and his ilk. Pay background noise the attention it deserves NONE. God bless all of you.

  • Angie

    I agree with you, Bristol! I was going to vote third party, and I decided to vote Republican instead because of your mom. I believe that she is the reason they did as well as they did in 2008!

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  • Anona Must

    You are a sick woman!

  • lethargic

    Bristol, I voted for McCain/Palin in 2008 precisely FOR your mother. Without her, I might not have voted at all … once she was selection, I made my first-ever campaign donation and I’m over 50, so that’s something … your mom was the only positive thing about that election. May God bless her, you, and all your family.

  • Tim Bewley

    Bristol Palin unwed mother criticizes the President of the United States over his stance on same sex marriages? What is she thinking. On one hand you have a high school graduate who had a child out of wedlock on the other hand you have the President of the United States in (by all appearances) a very successful marriage who was a constitutional professor at Harvard. Which one would I have greater faith in finding wisdom? Without a doubt it would be President Barrack Obama. The idea that examining his family to figure out what he thinks and finds important in family makes perfect sense. The fact he rejects a narrow-minded and religiously bigoted viewpoint that only men and women can marry really upsets fundamentalists and the religious right. People who believe only men and women can marry impinge on the right of “pursuit of happiness” for gay and lesbian people. The whole point of America is you are free to live your life as you see fit as long as your not infringing on other people. Bristol thinks it’s her duty to infringe on other peoples lifestyle. What hubris, perhaps she will grow out of it one day. But I wouldn’t count on it. Additionally your mother was a terrible pick for Vice President and cost the Republican party the election against Obama. I mean seriously she could have said “Field and Stream”, “Playgirl”,”Guitar Player”,”Newsweek” say anything, ANYTHING!

  • jessa

    Great post Bristol! Your Mom was the main reason my family was excited to vote for senator mccain!

  • Serenity James

    I cannot claim to know what you went through during that election. However, I can fully understand and feel your anger, pain, and lust to correct those who slam your mother, without knowing her. I am a southern girl, through, and through, and I believe that, while I can ‘bash’ my mother all that I want, just let someone else say the wrong thing about my mom, and I’m ready to dig their grave. I applaud you for being classy during all of the opposition to your family. Stay strong, Bristol.