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Right Has No Problems With Palin's Troubles

If you think the steady drip-drip-drip of disclosures about Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is crippling her candidacy, come to St. Paul.

There is no telling where the Palin story will end, but here at the national convention in Minnesota — where she is scheduled to speak on Wednesday night — the party faithful are ignoring verified revelations and vicious rumors. So far they are gung-ho about the Alaska governor. And whenever any naysayer says nay, many Palinites reply with a resounding, "Yea!"

Rep. Deborah Pryce of Ohio tells a breakfast group at the Crowne Plaza that she is excited about John McCain's selection of Palin. "I am a pro-choice moderate Republican," says Pryce, but she admires the anti-abortion Palin. "She has lived her values," Pryce says of Palin. "She holds them and she lives them."

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Rita Reif, a mortgage banker from St. Paul, says, "I think Sarah Palin offers some exciting energy to the campaign."

There is a Rorschach quality to Palin. And reactions to her appointment are a reminder that this is one nation divisible. As each piece of information about the relatively unknown Palin is reported, it means one thing to the left and the complete opposite to the right.

Parrying Objections To Palin

The very objections that liberals raise about Palin, conservatives hold up as talking points. On the streets, at political forums, on the convention floor in St. Paul, Republicans parry the anti-Palin thrusts. To wit:

Palin lacks experience. "The risk is that she doesn't have decades of experience," Idaho's lieutenant governor, Jim Risch, said at a forum sponsored by Yahoo News, Politico and the local Pioneer Press newspaper. "The reward: She doesn't have decades of experience." Risch and others believe that Palin's lack of insider knowledge and her newness to the ways of Washington will be an asset. Risch points out that Obama also lacks experience. Risch says he would rather have an experienced pol at the top of the ticket.

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Palin is not an attentive mother. "We all have ghosts in our closet," says mortgage banker Reif. She and her husband, Dave, are enjoying having so many fellow Republicans on the streets of their city. Hearing the reports that Palin's unmarried daughter Bristol is pregnant, Reif says, "showed me that she is more like us." Reif adds that she likes Palin's right-to-life stance and that Palin wants to lower taxes, drill for more oil in Alaska and reduce government.

"And she's gun-toting," says Dave Reif. "I like that."

Palin is involved in various charges of scandal. "I think she's been a good governor," says Alaska delegate Kim Skipper, a staffer for a state representative. "She's a reformer. She takes on challenges." And as a result, Skipper says, feathers get ruffled.

"Sarah Palin is a maverick," Skipper says. "She's the mirror image of McCain."

At this juncture, the one criticism of Palin that could possibly stick among Republicans is that she might not appeal to conservatives beyond the base that McCain needs to win in November. Her lack of experience, onetime political adviser Mike Murphy said at the forum, "sends mixed messages." On the upside, he adds, she has charisma.

But, Murphy asks, will Palin bring in new voters for McCain?

And if there are further substantive revelations about Palin's personal or political life, Murphy adds, another question will arise: Has McCain exhibited good judgment in his first major decision as the presidential nominee?

In the coming weeks there will be other questions as well.

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