Sarah Palin, “just your average hockey mom” from small-town USA, came out punching in her national television debut on Wednesday.
“I’m not a member of the permanent political establishment,” the Republican vice-presidential nominee, virtually unknown at the national level, said in her acceptance speech.
“And I’ve learned quickly ... some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone. But here’s a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion — I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this country.”
Palin also pressed the Republican attack on Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, painting him as elitist and inexperienced.
The crowd at the Xcel Energy Centre loved it; she was cheered repeatedly. Introducing her family to the nation, Palin said her son Track, 19, will be deployed to Iraq next week. She did not refer to the controversy over her 17-year-old daughter Bristol’s pregnancy but said, “Our family has the same ups and downs as any other.
“Sometimes even the greatest joys bring challenge. And children with special needs inspire a special love. To the families of special-needs children all across this country, I have a message: For years, you sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters. I pledge to you that if we are elected, you will have a friend and advocate in the White House.” Palin’s youngest child, Trig, was born with Down’s syndrome.
She described her husband Todd as “a proud member of the United Steel Workers’ Union.” There was a direct pitch to women too: “This is America, and every woman can walk through every door of opportunity.”
On her qualifications for the job, she said: “Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown. And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organiser,’ except that you have actual responsibilities.”
Obama was a community organiser in Chicago before he became a state senator.
Her record: “Our state budget is under control. We have a surplus. And I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending: nearly half a billion dollars in vetoes.” The choice Americans face in this election is clear, she said. “In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change.”
By the way, what’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull? Lipstick, Palin said.