Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Sarah Palin Fires Up Delegates with Speech

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin won wide praise from California Republicans following her speech last night to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. Some Golden State delegates also expressed relief that the party's little known vice presidential nominee made no great gaffes. KPCC's Frank Stoltze in St. Paul and talked about the speech with Morning Edition host Steve Julian

Steve Julian: Sarah Palin won wide praise from California Republicans following her speech last night to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Some Golden State delegates also expressed relief that the party's little known vice presidential nominee made no great gaffes. KPCC's Frank Stoltze joins us now from St. Paul. Frank, what are California delegates saying this morning about Palin's speech?

Frank Stoltze: They're saying they loved the speech, that the speech fired them up. Jennifer Cuneen of San Jose said she likes McCain's running mate even more after her speech.

Jennifer Cuneen: She was smart. She was confident. And I think that America is going to be just beginning to see how competent she really is. I was really impressed with her entire presentation tonight.
Stoltze: Was there one line that kind of stood out for you?
Cuneen: Personally, I have a child with some learning issues. So her comments about being a friend and ally of special needs children obviously stuck out for me.

Stoltze: Margaret Bloomfield of Pacific Palisades told me that she liked the 44-year-old Palin's tough talk about Barack Obama, and now understands why the Alaska governor is nicknamed "the Barracuda." Last night, Palin derided Obama as a "community organizer." Just one of her barbs against Obama. Daniel Healy of Duarte also loved Palin's speech.

Daniel Healy: I thought Sarah far exceeded expectations. She's beautiful, she's funny, and she's smart. And I think she's going to be a great candidate. And I think we just cinched it. (chuckles)

Julian: Frank, did you get a sense of relief among the delegates?

Stoltze: Yeah, there was definitely some relief, Steve. Joel Fox of the San Fernando Valley was one of several delegates who said he was unsure, very much unsure, about Palin going into the speech.

Joel Fox: No question. I mean, I'm honest. I don't know Sarah Palin. I trust the judgment of John McCain. He's somebody I've worked with and followed for eight years, but I didn't know her. And in her case, because she was so unknown, if she was a little flat, or she didn't connect, that could damage her going over the course of the next two months. But it's clear that she connected with the people in this room.
Stoltze: Are you feeling better about the ticket's chances in November now?
Fox: Very much so.

Stoltze: Steve, Californians also were picking their favorite Palin lines from the speech, and several of them said that they loved the joke about the only difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is that one wears lipstick.

Julian: Lipstick, yeah. Frank, are Palin's performance last night, and her reputation as a social conservative, prompting some people to take a fresh look at California come November?

Stoltze: Well, they are. Some people are even sort of giddily predicting California could vote Republican for the first time in two decades. Tim Lefever, who is helping lead the campaign to pass the November ballot initiative that would ban gay marriage, says he used to think that Proposition 8 would only help McCain.

Tim Lefever: My analysis two weeks ago would have been that Proposition 8 would actually help us put California in play for the McCain ticket; by bringing the grassroots out to vote for Proposition 8, that they would actually then turn around and a majority of them vote for McCain. Now we flip-flop that analysis to say Palin on the ticket has so energized the grassroots that we think that'll bring out more voters who will vote for Proposition 8.

Stoltze: So, a bit of a flip-flop there. Now they're thinking that Palin, the social conservative, is gonna help pass this gay marriage ban. It's an example of a growing sense among Republicans that Palin may be just what they needed to compete with Barack Obama.

Julian: Frank, what's on the Republican schedule today?

Stoltze: Tonight, we've got of course John McCain formally accepting his nomination for president with a speech to the convention. He joined Palin on stage briefly last night in a surprise appearance. But tonight's the night for McCain. Then it's just less than two months 'til the November election.

Julian: KPCC's Frank Stoltze has been in St. Paul, Minnesota this week reporting from the convention. Frank, thanks very much.

Stoltze: Thanks, Steve.

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