Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sarah Palin In Profile: The View of An Alaskan Politician Who Ran Against Her

Andrew Halcro, a Republican turned independent, who ran against Sarah Palin for governor in 2006, provdes some insights into the woman who will join John McCain on the Republcan ticket:

Palin is a fighter and is has an amazing way of filling a room with her presence. During the gubernatorial race in 2006, it was an amazing sight to behold at every debate. No matter what she said, if anything, people would just gush at her optimism and her compelling story.

While I and others criticized her glittering generalities during the campaign, the more she spoke them the more people fell in love. That is the significant power she has of making voters forget about the policy and focus on the person.

Palin should never, ever be underestimated. Far too many seasoned politicians have doubted her ability due to her appearance that she lacks any grasp or vision about public policy challenges.

I recall during a late night flight back from a Fairbanks campaign event in 2006, sitting next to former Governor and Democratic opponent Tony Knowles on the plane, talking about Palin's uncanny popularity.

I remember Knowles saying that what was most surprising to him regarding his polling was that Palin scored off the charts with well educated moderate and liberal women. This seemed counter intuative given Palin's inability to articulate public policies and her very conservative postion on issues such as abortion...

Another weakness is Palin's habit of tailoring the facts of a situation to meet her political needs.

Yesterday in her Dayton acceptance speech, Palin stated, "...I championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. In fact, I told Congress -- I told Congress, 'Thanks, but no thanks,' on that bridge to nowhere. If our state wanted a bridge, I said we'd build it ourselves."

This was not true.

Not only did the state keep the money that was earmarked for the bridge to be used on other transportation projects, but Palin had been a strong supporter of the bridge during her gubernatorial run in 2006, claiming Alaska needed to seize upon the seniority of its congressional delegation...

As a close observer of her administration, Palin has had a habit of holding press conferences surrounded by the crutch of her staff.

When questions get too detailed, she anxiously looks around the room for someone to save her...

She has also exhibited a quick temper with those who question her...

In April of 2006, Palin and I shared a cup of coffee together in the Captain Cook coffee shop. We had just been at a debate up at the University of Fairbanks the night before and she said although the was impressed with my ability to state policies and figures, when looking out over the audience, she wondered to herself if having a grasp of that really mattered.

In October of 2006, at a health care debate at UAA late in the campaign, while Tony Knowles and I waited backstage to go on, Palin sat in the corner with two of her aides trying to force feed her health care information. She ended up walking on stage with an arm load of health care reports.

The fact was that having a grasp of policies and figures didn't matter. Because at the end of the day, policies and figures didn't win the election; Palin won the election by being the candidate that people liked the most, not the candidate that knew the most.

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