Palin takes on ‘Washington elite’

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Her prime-time moment arrived, Republican presumptive vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin introduced herself to the nation Wednesday night as a feisty small-town mayor turned governor who was more qualified than Democrat Barack Obama to serve in the White House and more willing to challenge “Washington’s elite.”

Mrs. Palin said she would accept her historic nomination as the first woman on a Republican ticket and wasted no time challenging critics in the media who have picked at her record, her family and her qualifications since John McCain selected her Friday.

“Here’s a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion. I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this country,” she told the Republican National Convention, drawing loud boos at the mere mention of the press.

She also showed she could punch with the political brawlers, belittling Mr. Obama’s campaign as a “journey of personal discovery” and contrasting her path from PTA mom and city council member to Mr. Obama’s start as a community organizer in Chicago.

“I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities,” she said

During her 40-minute address, Mrs. Palin moved comfortably from storytelling hockey mom to red-meat political attacker. She flashed tenderness when she blew a kiss to a former prisoner of war in the crowd, then drilled into the policy details highlighting the dangers of Russian aggression in an oil-dependent world. Ans when she finished, leaving the crowd roaring on its feet, she comfortably picked up her 5-month-old baby and stood with her family to soak in the moment.

“Don’t you think I’ve made the right choice?” Mr. McCain said in a brief appearance at the end of the night.

Mrs. Palin’s address was the pinnacle of a day in which Mr. McCain warmly embraced Mrs. Palin’s 17-year-old pregnant daughter and her soon-to-be-husband before cameras and the campaign said it would no longer answer questions about her family life.

The campaign also began to go on offense, with surrogates both before and during the convention night activities saying the questions about Mrs. Palin are unfair.

“Sarah Palin has enough time to spend with her children and be vice president. How dare they?” said former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who presented a key speech introducing Mrs. Palin. “When do they ever ask a man that question?”

Republican women called press reports about Mrs. Palin an “outrageous smear campaign,” and Mr. McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis, accused reporters of treating Mrs. Palin badly because they were angry that the McCain campaign had been able to keep her nomination a surprise.

“What I think is the press is really disappointed they couldn’t figure out who it was in advance,” he said.

The campaign also announced a commercial stacking up the credentials of Mrs. Palin against those of Mr. Obama, calling her a reformer and him “the Senate’s ‘most liberal.’”

Democrats said they expected an impressive performance from the governor, but said she won’t do anything to change the policies of President Bush.

“The speech that Governor Palin was well-delivered, but it was written by George Bush’s speechwriter and sounds exactly like the same divisive, partisan attacks we’ve heard from George Bush for the last eight years,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.

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