STIK AND OTHER ISSUES
As she excites Republican activists, Sarah Palin is also sending tingles up the legs of British conservatives who predict she will propel John McCain to victory, and shudders down the spines of liberals who see the threat she poses to Barack Obama.
Six members of the British Parliament, three from the Conservative Party and three from the Labor Party, gave their candid assessments of the U.S. presidential race Wednesday in a forum hosted by the Meridian International Center in Northwest Washington.
Mark Pritchard, a Conservative, broke the taboo on foreign visitors talking about domestic American issues when he delivered a 10-point list of reasons why Mr. McCain will carry the Republicans back to the White House.
His Labor colleagues grimaced.
"I've been advised to stay calm," quipped Angela E. Smith, a Labor member sitting next to Mr. Pritchard on the panel.
Mr. Pritchard, who appeared with his Conservative colleagues Richard Bacon and Mark G. Hoban, predicted a McCain-Palin victory because:
• The surge in Iraq is working;
• Mr. Obama undermined his message of change by picking Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, a 35-year veteran of the Senate, as his running mate;
• Mr. Obama ducked a question about abortion by saying it was "above my pay grade;"
• The media have proved themselves biased in favor of Mr. Obama;
• Mrs. Palin has proved to be a "maverick" as governor of Alaska;
• She will help get the women's vote;
• Mr. Obama has responded "badly" to the "Palin story;"
• The U.S. economy is not in as bad a shape as Democrats claim;
• Foreign crises could develop that will highlight Mr. McCain's national security credentials;
• And the Bush administration avoided another Katrina catastrophe by responding quickly to the latest hurricanes.
He even got in a political dig, as Mrs. Smith talked about the revival of the steel industry in a city in her parliamentary district.
"We are now the world's biggest producer of ice-hockey skate blades," she said.
"Hockey moms," Mr. Pritchard injected.
That led to a discussion on lipstick. Mrs. Palin, in a now-famous joke, said the difference between a hockey mom like herself and a pit bull is lipstick. Mr. Obama Tuesday referred to Mr. McCain's platform as warmed-over policies of President Bush.
"You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig," the Illinois Democrat said at a campaign rally.
The McCain campaign Wednesday accused his opponent of defaming Mrs. Palin.
Mr. Pritchard, referring to the spat, admitted, "I'm not an expert on lipstick. But I think most Americans are not concerned about whether they wear lipstick or what shade. They want to know what their policies are."
Mrs. Smith challenged him on whether Mrs. Palin will win the female vote.
"Not all feminists support Sarah Palin," she said.
Labor member Mary Creagh added that Mrs. Palin is the new celebrity in the race.
"An unknown mom has been thrust on to the scene. She's taken over from Britney Spears," she said, referring to a McCain campaign ad that compared Mr. Obama to the pop singer. "But no one knows how long this wave will last."
Mrs. Creagh, Mrs. Smith and their Labor colleague Phil Wilson recognized the political threat to the Democratic ticket but predicted Mr. Obama will regain his footing and win the presidency.
Mrs. Creagh called Mr. Obama an "American hero" raised by a single mother who "pulled himself up by his bootstraps."
Mrs. Smith added, "This is the most important U.S. election in some time. It is important to the whole world."
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