Palin daughter’s pregnancy stirs GOP convention
But delegates say pregnancy humanizes the nominee for vice president.
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“Obviously, it’s not what these energized delegates want to hear,” says Susan MacManus, a political scientist from the University of South Florida in Tampa. Reaction among delegates has been twofold, she says: First, they wish they had been told up front about the pregnancy so they would not be blindsided. Second, they surmise that the situation humanizes Palin even more, as she and her family deal with an issue many American families face.Skip to next paragraph
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Bristol Palin’s decision to have the baby comports with the antiabortion views of many delegates here, so given the alternative, there is a good-news element to the story. But the pregnancy also puts the spotlight on Sarah Palin’s support for abstinence-only sex education, which opposes discussion of birth control for teens.
The news also reopened the question of how closely John McCain had vetted Palin before selecting her as his running mate, a move that surprised the political world last Friday. Now word that the McCain campaign dispatched a dozen staffers to Alaska last week, allegedly to continue investigating Palin’s background, has raised more questions.
The McCain campaign maintains that Palin was vetted as fully as the other potential running mates. “The team sent to Anchorage last week was the communications jump team, set up for whoever the pick was, to integrate their world into ours,” a top McCain official told Politico.com.
McCain officials also say Palin told them about her daughter’s pregnancy before her selection as running mate. “Many American families have experiences like this,” Mark Salter, a top McCain aide, said to reporters Monday. “Unfortunately, it has to play out in the public spotlight.”
“How ready is she for that?” he asks. “She can pass vetting but still foul up on foreign policy. That will play a lot more than [Monday’s] news.”
For now, GOP delegates continue to applaud the choice of Palin despite, even because of, her pregnant daughter. “It’s just another reason that I think she’s great, because that pregnancy could be terminated very easily without anybody knowing, but again, they chose life,” says Valerie Citrano of Crawford, Texas, alluding to the fact that Palin chose to give birth to her son, Trig, knowing he was diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome.
Mary Knox Merrill contributed to this report.