"The action I am taking is no more than a radical measure to hasten the explosion of truth and justice. I have but one passion: to enlighten those who have been kept in the dark, in the name of humanity which has suffered so much and is entitled to happiness. My fiery protest is simply the cry of my very soul. Let them dare, then, to bring me before a court of law and let the enquiry take place in broad daylight!" - Emile Zola, J'accuse! (1898) -

Monday, September 1, 2008

Minneapolis Report and Things Are Less Than Unanimous In Alaska…Read Carefully.

This Widget Will Update With Continued Protest Actions And News

Special Report Minneapolis

Sept. 1 (Bloomberg) -- To Senator John McCain, his running mate, Sarah Palin, is a ``soul mate'' who will help him battle corruption in Washington.

People in the Alaska governor's home state -- including a supporter of her last run for office, a former staffer and some residents of her home town -- are less certain of her credentials to be vice president.

``She's a reformer,'' said Republican presidential candidate McCain, who is set to accept the nomination at the Republican National Convention, which begins today in St. Paul, Minnesota.

``I have watched her for many years,'' McCain said yesterday on Fox News Sunday. ``I've seen her take on her own party. This is a person that will help me reform Washington.''

Still, a growing chorus of Alaskans expressed reservations.

``She's not qualified, she doesn't have the judgment, to be next in line to the president of the United States,'' Larry Persily, who until June worked in the governor's Washington office as a congressional liaison, said in a phone interview.

A supporter of Palin's campaign for governor, Jim Whitaker, the Republican mayor of Fairbanks, also questioned Palin's readiness to serve as vice president.

`Avid Supporter'

Whitaker said that while he is ``still an avid supporter'' of Palin as governor, he will continue to back Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

Palin, 44, is less than halfway through her first term as governor. Before her election to that post, she served on a state commission that regulated the energy industry and was mayor of the town of Wasilla, which had an estimated population in 2007 of 9,780, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Persily, who worked for three different governors in the state's Washington office, said he left the job on good terms with Palin.

He said Palin owed her election to the unpopularity of then-Governor Frank Murkowski, whom Palin defeated in the Republican primary by running on a platform of overhauling state government. ``He created her,'' Persily said. Murkowski declined to comment.

Home-state newspapers also questioned McCain's choice.

`Not Ready'

``Most people would acknowledge that, regardless of her charm and good intentions, Palin is not ready for the top job,'' the Fairbanks News-Miner newspaper wrote in an Aug. 29 editorial. ``McCain seems to have put his political interests ahead of the nation's when he created the possibility that she might fill it.''

The Anchorage Daily News, the state's largest paper, noted in an editorial that Palin is enmeshed in a legislative investigation of her July 11 firing of the state's public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan. He has since asserted that he received pressure from Palin's family and administration to fire a state trooper involved in a contentious divorce from Palin's sister.

In Palin's home town of Wasilla, residents were divided yesterday over her fitness for national office.

At Wasilla Bible Church, the evangelical church Palin and her family currently attend, pastors and congregates said the governor's Christian values make her a strong candidate.

Church Attendance

Ashley Brown, executive pastor, said the last time the Palins attended was two weeks ago for their son Trig's dedication, which introduced the child to the congregation.

Nate Bair, a member of the church, said he is proud to live where Palin grew up. ``Obama is a socialist'' he said. ``I want less government control. I don't believe in national health care.''

Gail Harvey, of Palmer, a neighboring town, said she has known Palin for about 12 years and attends the governor's former evangelical church, Wasilla Assembly of God. Harvey said McCain made a good choice in selecting Palin, in part because she will draw Christian voters.

``She has strong Christian values, which was really evident when she had her Down's syndrome baby,'' Harvey said, referring to Trig. ``She could have aborted him, but I'm sure that wasn't even a consideration.''

At the Lowe's Home Improvement Store in Wasilla, reaction was more mixed.

``I'm a big fan of Sarah Palin, but I'm just not sure she's ready to be vice president,'' said Steve Jakab of Wasilla. ``She's done well for Alaska, but we have much bigger problems happening right now in the country, and we need somebody with national and international experience.''

Environmental Concerns

Amos Stephens of Wasilla said he was voting for Obama in part because he differs from Palin on environmental matters such as her support for oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and her opposition to listing polar bears as endangered.

``We have polar bears drowning in the Arctic Ocean and she doesn't think it's a problem,'' Stephens said. ``That, I think, is a big problem.''

Shari Kitchin of Palmer said she had been leaning toward Obama and now isn't sure. Kitchin said Palin seems bright, has done a good job governing Alaska and is capable of ``learning on the job'' how to be vice president.

Palin spokesman Bill McAllister defended her readiness for national office on an Aug. 29 conference call with reporters, saying Palin is older than John F. Kennedy was when he ran for president in 1960 and that ``of four people on two national tickets, she is the only one with executive experience.''

To contact the reporters on this story: Tony Hopfinger in Wasilla, Alaska at thopfinger@gci.net; Ken Fireman in St. Paul, Minnesota at kfireman1@bloomberg.net

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