Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin took the Republican National Convention by storm last week, and a panel of renowned journalists offered insight on the little-known Alaskan governor at a packed Lisner Auditorium on Friday.
During the taping of Washington Week with Gwen Ifill, panelists agreed that Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) selected Palin to underline his recent strategy switch of “change,” something that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has often stressed.
“John McCain changed his reason for running from experienced maverick to the maverick for change,” said Jeanne Cummings, chief money and lobbying correspondent for Politico. “So, we start the election from an entirely different place than we said thought we might have been a few weeks ago.”
David Broder, Washington Post national political correspondent, said both parties use the theme of change to capture swing voters who want something different in Washington.
The panelists agreed that Palin’s confident speech at the Republican National Convention helped empower her party, but would not be enough to win any long-term affection. Ifill joked that hunting moose in Alaska is probably “a fine, fine thing to do,” but that voters would want to know more.
The discussion touched on some Republican claims that Palin’s gender had been subject to too much media attention.
“(Palin) has been subjected to all sorts of questions that wouldn’t be asked of a man,” said Peter Baker, New York Times political correspondent.
Another topic was President George W. Bush’s absence from the Republican National Convention.
“This is by definition now John McCain’s party . it is no longer George Bush’s party,” said Vanity Fair National Editor Todd Purdum, noting the Democrats mentioned Bush 12 times more often than the Republicans during their respective conventions.
Broder asserted that the lack of attention given to the current president by the Republicans is “probably a necessary move,” given his low approval ratings.
The show in Lisner was part of a national tour where Ifill and her cast of political experts filmed before live audiences, in cities like Denver and Minneapolis.