Republicans got everything they could possibly want from Sarah Palin tonight: she was a large, confident personality - one Democratic friend ruefully wrote that she reminded him of Ann Richards - and she delivered an extremely well crafted speech. Before the speech, Republican strategists told Dana Bash of CNN that they hoped that she would show viewers "a common touch with executive presence", and she definitely succeeded at that.
Three things in particular stood out:
1. She joked that the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is ...lipstick. Clearly, in the next few weeks, she will play the role of a pit bull with lipstick. My sense is that she will very likely connect with blue collar America but may be much less successful in suburban America.
2. Her personal story is also one that will relate well to people. She has a quality of seeming like the girl next door.
3. She showed a lot of confidence in addressing energy toward the end of the speech, which gave her more substantive depth.
Now let us be clear: there will be tons of Democrats and others who will disagree with her and will take sharp exception with her views. Her jabs at Barack Obama and the Democrats were surprisingly personal at times. And she will face tough questioning ahead from the press. After all, there are still some serious questions about what kind of president she might be. We are going to have a rough and tumble race down the home stretch.
Ben Stein: Palin a 'peculiar VP choice'
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) - Palin? Palin?
Ben Stein of “Ferris Bueller” fame is beside himself over Sen. John McCain’s choice for vice president.
“I’m confused and disturbed by the GOP choice of Sarah Palin,” the economist said Wednesday outside The CNN Grill at the Republican National Convention.
Stein was hoping for someone with more experience like Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who was considered to be on the shortlist of McCain’s potential running mates.
But don’t expect Stein to defect to the left.
“Obama doesn't have enough experience and Biden just isn't smart enough,” he said. "We need someone smart and we haven't had a smart president in a long time. Well, I guess Clinton was smart.
"I'm a Republican and hope McCain wins, but I'm just floored they picked Sarah Palin."
Stein is an author and former speechwriter for Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford,
ST. PAUL (CNN) – Democrats who thought Sarah Palin would be an easy, soft target are in for a surprise: this is not a woman to be trifled with. Her opponents may have thought she’d be a deer in the headlights, like Dan Quayle. They were wrong.
(McCain’s appearance at the end of her speech wasn’t quite as surprising – that kind of pre-speech convention appearance has become almost expected.)
Here’s what Republicans got out of the evening:
1: They proved that Palin’s no pushover. They clearly established that.
2: They established a tough, even bullying tone to this night of the convention which bordered on the ugly, mocking their opponents.
3: Speakers gave strong testimony to McCain’s character.
Here’s what they didn’t accomplish: An answer to what they will do to solve this country’s economic problems. Without that, they’re not going to get anywhere.
And now it rests with McCain.
ST PAUL (CNN) –- Palin is giving an effective speech –- if a very long one - that puts her family life on the table.
She seems very comfortable on stage, as she becomes the latest speaker of the night to take a swipe at Michelle Obama.
Watch: Palin says she has 'actual responsibilities'
Her experience on the energy issue is very valuable in this campaign – it’s an issue on which she can speak with some authority, and holds a lot of appeal for voters this cycle.
But she’s going out on a limb here – it’s a little risky for her to go after Obama on experience, as she’s doing right now.
Watch: Giuliani says Obama 'got it wrong' on Iraq.
ST. PAUL (CNN) – This speech is about mockery – and I wonder whether that’s appealing to voters. I really think this tone is going to turn a lot of voters off – it’s ugly, it’s bitter, it’s nasty. There is a bullying tone to this speech, and to Romney’s speech, and I just don’t think it works.
Watch: Giuliani says this is 'no time for on the job training'
Even less appealing: “When they gave up on Iraq, they gave up on America”? Now that’s insulting.
What they’re doing is re-running the 2004 campaign, which the Republicans won on the issue of terrorism. He’s saying the war on terror should be the supreme issue – but for most voters it’s the economy
ST. PAUL (CNN) - They cut out the video introducing Sarah Palin – she was getting squeezed out of prime time.
Two points about John McCain’s pick here:
By naming her to the ticket, he may have been trying to do two things that are very difficult to do at the same time: rally the base, and make himself look like a maverick. It’s pretty tough to pull off both simultaneously.
Watch: Giuliani says Palin has more experience than the Democratic ticket combined
He did rally the Republican base. Whether he reclaimed his image as a maverick remains to be seen.
McCain may also have been trying to win over women – but the polls so far seem to indicate that did not happen.
Watch: Sarah Palin says she 'accepts the challenge'.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin: Mr. Chairman, delegates, and fellow citizens: I am honored to be considered for the nomination for Vice President of the United States...
I accept the call to help our nominee for president to serve and defend America.
I accept the challenge of a tough fight in this election... against confident opponents ... at a crucial hour for our country.
And I accept the privilege of serving with a man who has come through much harder missions ... and met far graver challenges ... and knows how tough fights are won – the next president of the United States, John S. McCain.
Watch: Palin says she's 'an outsider'
It was just a year ago when all the experts in Washington counted out our nominee because he refused to hedge his commitment to the security of the country he loves.
With their usual certitude, they told us that all was lost – there was no hope for this candidate who said that he would rather lose an election than see his country lose a war.
But the pollsters and pundits overlooked just one thing when they wrote him off.
They overlooked the caliber of the man himself – the determination, resolve, and sheer guts of Senator John McCain. The voters knew better.
And maybe that's because they realize there is a time for politics and a time for leadership ... a time to campaign and a time to put our country first.
Our nominee for president is a true profile in courage, and people like that are hard to come by.
He's a man who wore the uniform of this country for 22 years, and refused to break faith with those troops in Iraq who have now brought victory within sight.
And as the mother of one of those troops, that is exactly the kind of man I want as commander in chief. I'm just one of many moms who'll say an extra prayer each night for our sons and daughters going into harm's way.
ST PAUL (CNN) –- John McCain’s running mate Sarah Palin needs to “portray herself as a leader” Wednesday night, if she does that, “she is going to be very popular,” Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens said in a CNN interview inside the Xcel Energy Center at the Republican National Convention.
Pickens – fresh off a visit to the Democratic National Convention – was in St. Paul on Wednesday to push what he modestly calls the Pickens Plan, a scheme to wean the United States off imported oil and instead rely more on renewable energy resources.
“I have a story to tell. My story is the Pickens Plan and that is the plan for energy for America,” he said of his Minnesota visit.
Pickens is particularly interested in hearing what Senator McCain has to say about energy in his address Thursday night.
In 2004, Pickens was among the highest-profile supporters of Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth, giving $1 million to the group that savaged Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry's war record.
He contributed $2.5 million the same year to the Progress for America voter fund, a group closely linked to President Bush and the Republican National Committee, and tens of thousands of dollars to individual Republican candidates for Congress, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
But Pickens says he isn’t taking sides this election and doesn’t haven’t an opinion about which presidential candidate would do a better job of decreasing American dependence on foreign oil.
“I am totally non-partisan in this race,” he said, adding that “both parties are going to have to work like hell” if they want to take the White House in November.
ST PAUL (CNN) - The left wing and Hollywood celebrities are the true stars of the evening, prompting another chant of “USA!” from the crowd.
How did “USA” become a term of defiance and division? It sounds ugly, like they’re saying: “We’re real Americans – and you’re not.”
Giuliani, like Romney, relishes the attack. His language is stinging. The crowd keeps chanting “zero” – as in the talking point that Obama has no executive experience, and has never run anything. Except his own campaign. Obama beat the Clintons, and the inevitable candidacy – that’s not nothing.
Did McCain even consider Mike Huckabee for the ticket?
In his speech tonight he stuck the knife in Joe Biden but he did it with wit. ("Sarah Palin got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, than Joe Biden received running for president!") One historical correction: Huckabee said Abraham Lincoln once said, "A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have."
Watch: Mike Huckabee's entire convention speech
Problem is, Lincoln didn't say that. Gerald Ford did – on August 12, 1974. Gerald Ford was a great Republican. He deserved credit for his line. And once again, never once was the name "Bush" mentioned. Poor George.