Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, has grabbed the headlines back from his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, with the announcement of his surprise running mate. Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin, a 44-year-old self-described “hockey mom” certainly adds youth and glamour to the Republican ticket.
But US presidential historian, Alan Lichtman, is not convinced it is a winning formula. “The downside of Sarah Palin is that she is entirely unknown,” he explained. “People are going to ask ‘Sarah who?’ She has never been on the national stage, and we have no idea how she’s going to perform in making the enormous jump from the insular world of Alaska politics to the white heat of a national presidential race.”
Palin’s inexperience could hurt McCain’s argument that Obama does not have a long enough CV to run the country.
But she has proved hugely popular as Alaska’s first female governor. Plus she has an 18-year-old son in the army en route for Iraq; she is a life member of the National Rifle Association and she is anti-abortion, all of which should appeal to Republicans who feel McCain is not conservative enough.
And the nomination of a woman could well draw female voters disappointed that Hillary Clinton is not on the Democrat ticket. It also means both tickets are historic firsts.