McCain, Palin go PUMA hunting

At the first event for the McCain-Palin ticket, at least one reason why John McCain chose the running mate he did became clear.

Published August 29, 2008 9:00PM (EDT)

The debut of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate didn't have the kind of fire Joe Biden was able to bring to his first event with Barack Obama. Considering how new Palin is to the national scene, that wasn't too surprising. For the moment, too, McCain and Palin don't seem to know each other well, and they don't yet look comfortable standing next to each other. But what the event did make clear is why, despite some negatives on her part, McCain chose Palin.

First off, there's her Everywoman look. Her family -- and her frequent joke about being a "hockey mom" -- only helps that. And there's her economic background as well. John McCain may have seven houses (or eight, or 10, who knows?) but Palin is, as McCain himself noted, a former union member; she's married to one as well. Palin "understands the problems, the hopes and the values of working people, knows what it's like to worry about mortgage payments and healthcare and the cost of gasoline and groceries," McCain said in introducing her.

And then, of course, there's her gender. McCain was working all week to exploit the divisions remaining in the Democratic Party, and to try to capture some of Hillary Clinton's supporters. The selection of Palin is obviously another step in that direction, as Salon's Rebecca Traister notes in her post about in Broadsheet. In her speech today, Palin wasn't subtle about trying to appeal to those who had backed Clinton.

"It's fitting that this trust has been given to me 88 years almost to the day after the women of America first gained the right to vote," Palin said, continuing:

I think as well today of two other women who came before me in national elections. I can't begin this great effort without honoring the achievements of Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and of course Sen. Hillary Clinton, who showed such determination and grace in her presidential campaign. It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America, but it turns out the women of America aren't finished yet and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2008 Elections John Mccain R-ariz. Sarah Palin