- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 3, 2008

ANALYSIS:

St. Paul: It’s Sarah Palin’s Night at the Republican National Convention.

Sure, other luminaries will speak. Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney will dish some red meat and offer plaudits to the man who beat them in the primaries. In so doing, they will slyly be positioning themselves for a run the next time if John McCain fails to win in November.

But all eyes will be on the one person who actually will be on the ballot this fall: Alaska Gov. Palin. She came from nowhere (well, a tiny town of 6,700 souls) to become McCain’s running mate and created one of the biggest media firestorms in years.

It’s no exaggeration to say that her address to the delegates in prime time will be the speech of her lifetime.

If she does well, many of the doubts raised about her will fade.

If she does poorly, she would cause a problem that could cripple Mr. McCain’s presidential hopes.

Hurricane Gustav delayed the start of the convention here. Hurricane Sarah is blowing through it now.

Palin, introduced as a family values candidate, turns out to have an unmarried, 17-year-old daughter who is five months pregnant.

She was touted as the ideal complement to Mr. McCain, because, like him, she opposed wasteful government spending. Yet when she was a small-town mayor, she hired a Washington lobbyist to secure a $27 million in federal earmarks, or special projects, of the kind McCain rails against.

Palin also boasted last week that she opposed the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere,” a more than $200 million span that became the poster child for runaway federal spending. But in interviews with Alaska newspapers, she was actually for the bridge, among other alternatives, before she was against it.

That’s more than enough grief for any politician let alone one who is still being introduced to the public.

But Palin remains beloved by the GOP delegates here. Republicans around the country also showered the McCain campaign with a record haul over the Internet—$8 million—in the three days after Palin’s selection.

Her handling of her daughters situation has also endeared her to women in general and social conservatives specifically. Bristol, the daughter, will have the child with the nurturing support of the family and will marry her boyfriend, 18-year-old Levi Johnston, who arrived at the convention today.

McCain clearly tried to make a virtue of the problem by publicly embracing the lad in front of cameras early Wednesday.

In addition, McCain and other Republicans are pushing back hard on news accounts that question Palin’s record. Bashing of the liberal press has rarely been so prevalent, or as applauded by the faithful here and around the country.

But tonight will tell the tale, or at least give a very strong indication which way the winds of Hurricane Sarah will blow—either into the White House or out to sea.

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