McCain Turns Hard Right, Goes All-In With “Pro-Life” Sarah Palin as Veep

Scott Swenson

Senator John McCain is going all-in with "pro-life" social conservatives by selecting first-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running mate. This post will be updated throughout the day.

Senator John McCain is going all-in with "pro-life" social conservatives by selecting first-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running mate. Palin will be the first woman Republican nominated to the national ticket. With this choice, McCain is signaling that he is preparing for ideological battle, appealing to the far-right social conservative base that he called "agents of intolerance" when he ran against George Bush in 2000. Rewire readers may recall that I wrote about this possibility June 4, 2008.

In her remarks Palin thanked McCain and noted the historical moment of her selection came 88 years, almost to the day, after women first gained the right to vote. In a clear indication of why she was selected, to reach out to women, she acknowledged the achievements of Geraldine Ferraro who was the first woman nominated to a major party ticket in 1984 by Walter Mondale, "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 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."

Sen. Hillary Clinton said today, "We should all be proud of Gov. Sarah
Palin’s historic nomination and I congratulate her and Sen. McCain.
While their policies would take American in the wrong direction, Gov.
Palin will add an important new voice to the debate."

That, in a nutshell, is the gambit, the Hail Mary, the roll of the dice that McCain is making, that women will be more interested in electing a woman based on biology, than policy.

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Sarah Palin could not possibly be further away in terms of policy than the two women she saluted, Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton.

Neither McCain nor Palin once mentioned the words "pro-life" or even made an oblique reference to social conservative values. They want to introduce her only as a woman, working mom, reformer, striving to underscore the ticket’s claim to a maverick mantle, even as they double-down with the extreme far-right wing of the GOP to motivate the base.

They hope to attract women who don’t know her, and perhaps even some who don’t yet believe that women’s reproductive health is genuinely threatened by policies reducing access to contraception currently proposed by the Bush Administration, and by the promise to overturn Roe v. Wade that McCain has underscored with Palin’s selection.

Conservative icon Pat Buchanan called Palin’s selection, "the biggest political gamble, just about, in American political history. This will energize the base." Palin was a supporter of Pat Buchanan when he ran for President, declaring the Culture War in his 1992 convention speech.

Former Republican Congressman and host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough said, "If John McCain’s campaign thinks he can get Hillary Clinton voters by choosing Palin it is condescending and insulting to women and it is a terrible political faux pas."

Former McCain adviser Mike Murphy said, "They know they are in a real fight here so there was a calculation that they need a real shock value here."

NBC Political Director Chuck Todd said McCain runs the risk of this looking like a gimmick. "John McCain only met her twice, he doesn’t know her. This goes against everything we know about John McCain, he like to surround himself with people that he is comfortable with and that are loyal to him and all of the sudden this is a political calculation and it is gimmicky," Chuck Todd said.

If there was any doubt about the stakes in this election for Americans interested in preserving the value of choice, and a Supreme Court that respects the differences of belief and faith and resists the push from the far-right to prohibit safe, legal abortion by overturning Roe v. Wade, there should be none now.

Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood of America said, “According to an article in the Alaska Journal
(3/16/08), when Palin was running for lieutenant governor in 2002, she
sent an e-mail to the Alaska Right to Life board saying she was as
“pro-life as any candidate can be.” She is also on the record stating
that she is opposed to abortion even in the case of rape or incest."

McCain flirted with returning to his centrist roots by considering pro-choice running mates like Tom Ridge or Joe Lieberman. His selection of Palin confirms the hard right turn he took in the primary, and puts a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health decisions in jeopardy.

With this decision John McCain can reliably lock-up the approximately ten percent of voters who want to see Roe v. Wade overturned, but does nothing to reach out to Americans who may differ on the question of abortion, but prefer to implement comprehensive sexuality education and the prevention of unintended pregnancies. Those sorts of centrist views can now be found no where in the GOP ticket or party platform, moving the party even further to the right than the Bush administration.

How this choice appeals to independents, which is what any objective analysis suggests is most important in this tightly contested election, is a question.

Palin is opposed to gay marriage but sympathetic to concerns about discrimination because of her own gay and lesbian friends. She just doesn’t believe those friends should be allowed the same rights associated with marriage as she and her husband enjoy. She is pro-gun, common in the West, and a member of Feminists for Life, making her a hero for far-right social conservatives.

Palin is under investigation as to whether she abused her power in firing Public Safety
Commissioner Walt Monegan. The legislative council approved $100,000 for the investigation that will find out whether Palin was
angry at Monegan for not firing an Alaska State Trooper who went
through a messy divorce with Palin’s sister.


This post will be updated throughout the day as news comes in.


News Politics

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Resigns as Chair of DNC, Will Not Gavel in Convention

Ally Boguhn

Donna Brazile, vice chair of the DNC, will step in as interim replacement for Wasserman Schultz as committee chair.

On the eve of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) resigned her position as chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), effective after the convention, amid controversy over leaked internal party emails and months of criticism over her handling of the Democratic primary races.

Wasserman Schultz told the Sun Sentinel on Monday that she would not gavel in this week’s convention, according to Politico.

“I know that electing Hillary Clinton as our next president is critical for America’s future,” Wasserman Schultz said in a Sunday statement announcing her decision. “Going forward, the best way for me to accomplish those goals is to step down as Party Chair at the end of this convention.”

“We have planned a great and unified Convention this week and I hope and expect that the DNC team that has worked so hard to get us to this point will have the strong support of all Democrats in making sure this is the best convention we have ever had,” Wasserman Schultz continued.

Just prior to news that Wasserman Schultz would step down, it was announced that Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) would chair the DNC convention.

Donna Brazile, vice chair of the DNC, will step in as interim replacement for Wasserman Schultz as committee chair.

Wasserman Schultz’s resignation comes after WikiLeaks released more than 19,000 internal emails from the DNC, breathing new life into arguments that the Democratic Party—and Wasserman Schultz in particular—had “rigged” the primary in favor of nominating Hillary Clinton. As Vox‘s Timothy B. Lee pointed out, there seems to be “no bombshells” in the released emails, though one email does show that Brad Marshall, chief financial officer of the DNC, emailed asking whether an unnamed person could be questioned about “his” religious beliefs. Many believe the email was referencing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT).

Another email from Wasserman Schultz revealed the DNC chair had referred to Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, as a “damn liar.”

As previously reported by Rewire before the emails’ release, “Wasserman Schultz has been at the center of a string of heated criticisms directed at her handling of the DNC as well as allegations that she initially limited the number of the party’s primary debates, steadfastly refusing to add more until she came under pressure.” She also sparked controversy in January after suggesting that young women aren’t supporting Clinton because there is “a complacency among the generation” who were born after Roe v. Wade was decided.

“Debbie Wasserman Schultz has made the right decision for the future of the Democratic Party,” said Sanders in a Sunday statement. “While she deserves thanks for her years of service, the party now needs new leadership that will open the doors of the party and welcome in working people and young people. The party leadership must also always remain impartial in the presidential nominating process, something which did not occur in the 2016 race.”

Sanders had previously demanded Wasserman Schultz’s resignation in light of the leaked emails during an appearance earlier that day on ABC’s This Week.

Clinton nevertheless stood by Wasserman Schultz in a Sunday statement responding to news of the resignation. “I am grateful to Debbie for getting the Democratic Party to this year’s historic convention in Philadelphia, and I know that this week’s events will be a success thanks to her hard work and leadership,” said Clinton. “There’s simply no one better at taking the fight to the Republicans than Debbie—which is why I am glad that she has agreed to serve as honorary chair of my campaign’s 50-state program to gain ground and elect Democrats in every part of the country, and will continue to serve as a surrogate for my campaign nationally, in Florida, and in other key states.”

Clinton added that she still looks “forward to campaigning with Debbie in Florida and helping her in her re-election bid.” Wasserman Schultz faces a primary challenger, Tim Canova, for her congressional seat in Florida’s 23rd district for the first time this year.

News Politics

Clinton Campaign Announces Tim Kaine as Pick for Vice President

Ally Boguhn

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

The Clinton campaign announced Friday that Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) has been selected to join Hillary Clinton’s ticket as her vice presidential candidate.

“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others,” said Clinton in a tweet.

“.@TimKaine is a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it,” she added.

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

Kaine signed two letters this week calling for the regulations on banks to be eased, according to a Wednesday report published by the Huffington Post, thereby ”setting himself up as a figure willing to do battle with the progressive wing of the party.”

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive political action committee Democracy for America, told the New York Times that Kaine’s selection “could be disastrous for our efforts to defeat Donald Trump in the fall” given the senator’s apparent support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Just before Clinton’s campaign made the official announcement that Kaine had been selected, the senator praised the TPP during an interview with the Intercept, though he signaled he had ultimately not decided how he would vote on the matter.

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Kaine’s record on reproductive rights has also generated controversy as news began to circulate that he was being considered to join Clinton’s ticket. Though Kaine recently argued in favor of providing Planned Parenthood with access to funding to fight the Zika virus and signed on as a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act—which would prohibit states and the federal government from enacting restrictions on abortion that aren’t applied to comparable medical services—he has also been vocal about his personal opposition to abortion.

In a June interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Kaine told host Chuck Todd he was “personally” opposed to abortion. He went on, however, to affirm that he still believed “not just as a matter of politics, but even as a matter of morality, that matters about reproduction and intimacy and relationships and contraception are in the personal realm. They’re moral decisions for individuals to make for themselves. And the last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions.”

As Rewire has previously reported, though Kaine may have a 100 percent rating for his time in the Senate from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the campaign website for his 2005 run for governor of Virginia promised he would “work in good faith to reduce abortions” by enforcing Virginia’s “restrictions on abortion and passing an enforceable ban on partial birth abortion that protects the life and health of the mother.”

As governor, Kaine did support some existing restrictions on abortion, including Virginia’s parental consent law and a so-called informed consent law. He also signed a 2009 measure that created “Choose Life” license plates in the state, and gave a percentage of the proceeds to a crisis pregnancy network.

Regardless of Clinton’s vice president pick, the “center of gravity in the Democratic Party has shifted in a bold, populist, progressive direction,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in an emailed statement. “It’s now more important than ever that Hillary Clinton run an aggressive campaign on core economic ideas like expanding Social Security, debt-free college, Wall Street reform, and yes, stopping the TPP. It’s the best way to unite the Democratic Party, and stop Republicans from winning over swing voters on bread-and-butter issues.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article included a typo that misidentified Sen. Tim Kaine as a Republican. We regret this error.