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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  • Dorene Russell of Coeur d’Alene, Id.

    The choice of Sarah as McCain’s VP was a phenomenal and positive boost to his campaign. Without Palin, McCain was a solid dead in the water candidate, much like the lackluster Dole presidential bid. Palin roused the conservative base like no one since Reagan. Sarah and RR are my modern day political heroes!~

  • Deb


    So many LOVE your mom and are PRAYING that she will still jump into the race.
    I would love to know if she is aware that many will NOT vote for Romney if he is the nominee. We feel he is only a WHITE VERSION of obama. We do NOT believe in ABO,because Romney is the SAME!!!!
    I would LOVE for you to reply to this. I have a group on facebook 100% Sarah-You Betcha Nation. We would LOVE for YOU and your MOM and FAMILY to join us,we are the group who has a SARAH SUPPORTER IN ALASKA “HAND DELIVERING” cards to your MOM. Our group would be SO HONORED if you would join us!!!!!! Please reply back with my question, “IS YOUR MOM AWARE THAT MANY OF US WILL NOT VOTE FOR ROMNEY?” (we wont vote) YOUR MOM WILL HAVE THE VOTES IF SHE JUMPS IN!!!!!


    • Ed Fiskeaux

      You got that sooooo right Deb :)

  • Maleena

    Bristol I don’t have to look at the polls from 2008; I remember very clearly the increase when Sarah was chosen! I remember those crowds that she drew in 2008 and the crowds she STILL draws in 2012! Most of all I remember how she moved me. I am sorry your family has to deal with these kinds of things. I really do NOT know how you all handle it so well. It can only come from God.

    I admire your mom for her continued faith in Christ, her love for her family and her love for her country. I admire the fact that she stands her ground for her beliefs. Even when people try to rip her apart…SHE RISES ABOVE! And stays true to our God. The issue with the left is that she can’t be bullied or bought. Their tactics do not work on her and they don’t know how to handle that.

    If ever or whenever your mom decides to run. SHE HAS MY VOTE!!!!

    • Mark Lodes

      Looking good at first impression is how I explain that bump. When the can of beans with the pretty label turns out to taste bitter, you don’t vote for that can of beans, no matter how good it looked the first time.

      • Maleena

        That’s your opinion……..

        • Mark Lodes

          Yes it is. Would you buy the bitter beans twice?

          • Maleena

            As I said that is your opinion and your analogy. NOT MINE! I do not share your opinion. So, if you’re asking if I would vote for Sarah again…I think I answered that in my original comment. YES I would!

      • John.Frank

        …. You are a Republican, seeking to be the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from Missouri and you write this sort of nonsense.

  • Louise

    Awesome, Bristol! You are soooo right!

  • dyz

    Oh please, Nancy. This is getting stale.

  • section9

    Well it’s about time this fightback happened. Your mom has been taking it on the chin from a fabulously incompetent GOP Establishment for the past three months. It is long past time for you guys to start hitting back.

    Better late than never!

  • fatman6502002

    Your common sense, writing ability and statement of facts completely blows away the “professional pundits”. Keep up the good work. I personally keep hoping for a Romney/Palin ticket so that your mother can blow away the opposition all the way to election day.

  • speppers69

    Bristol…we are still hoping that your mom WILL work miracles and run. She’s already picked the VP…Congressman Allen West. We only need her to say “YES”! Romney is NOT going to beat Obama no matter how terrible Obama is. Romney is NOT going to turn out conservatives. I don’t know more than a handfull of conservatives that are going to vote for him. We’re tired of the GOPe telling us who will and won’t run and who we will vote for. My vote in California doesn’t count because Obama will easily win California. So I still plan on voting for the best person to turn this country around and make the tough choices that need to be made for sudden and relentless reform….I will be writing in Sarah Palin’s name as MY choice. I’m not holding my nose and voting for who the GOPe has told me to sit down and shut up and do what you’re told to do ever again! Sarah said it best….”you’re either eating well or sleeping well”….I’ll be sleeping just fine knowing I voted my conscience! And I know a whole lot of tea party members and conservatives and libertarians and democrats that will be sleeping well, also. Sarah Palin is the ONLY one that can take on and beat Obama!

  • Isabel Matos

    Awesome post, Bristol! I liked it very much.

  • Jasmine

    i am soooo tired of that meme so i am glad you smashed it to bits. no, the sarah-bashers don’t check their facts before they bash her. they stick to their narrative and ignore truth. it’s extremely annoying…