Questions raised about McCain's choice of Palin, aides insist "thorough vetting" process

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sarah Palin
Image: Frank K.
John McCain
Image: United States Congress.

Various questions have been raised about the choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as Senator John McCain's choice for Republican vice presidential running mate. There have been doubts over how thoroughly McCain had examined Palin's background before announcing that he had selected her to be his running mate on August 29. McCain's advisers insist that Palin was "thoroughly vetted," a process that would have included a review of all financial and legal records as well as a criminal background check.

Palin is the Republican Party's first female candidate for Vice President. In 1984, Geraldine Ferraro was Walter Mondale's running mate on the Democratic Party ticket.

Yesterday, Palin and her husband issued a statement saying that their 17-year-old unmarried daughter Bristol is five months pregnant and that she intends to marry the father of the baby. The statement came after media speculation and internet rumours that Palin's 4-month-old son, Trig, was in fact her grandson, and that the mother is Bristol.

Senator Barack Obama, McCain's opponent in the 2008 election, was asked to comment on Palin's family situation:

"Let me be as clear as possible... I think people's families are off-limits, and people's children are especially off-limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Governor Palin's performance as governor or her potential performance as a vice president," said Obama.

Obama further told reporters to "back off these kinds of stories" and noted that he was born to an 18-year-old mother himself. Obama became annoyed when asked about a news report that quoted an unnamed senior McCain campaign aide saying that Obama's name appears in liberal blogs speculating about Trig's parentage. "I am offended by that statement... There is no evidence at all that any of this involved us."

"We don't go after people's families; we don't get them involved in the politics. It's not appropriate, and it's not relevant," Obama added. "Our people were not involved in any way in this, and they will not be. And if I ever thought that there was somebody in my campaign that was involved in something like that, they'd be fired."

The McCain campaign said that Senator McCain was aware of Bristol Palin's pregnancy before he asked her mother to join him on the ticket. McCain reportedly did not see the pregnancy as a detriment to Governor Palin's selection as the vice presidential candidate.

McCain told reporters that he was satisfied with his campaign's vetting process: "The vetting process was completely thorough and I'm grateful for the results."

Governor Palin has hired a private lawyer in a legislative ethics investigation in Alaska into whether she abused her power in dismissing the state's public safety commissioner, Walter Monegan. The investigation is checking into whether Palin dismissed Monegan for his reluctance to fire Palin's former brother-in-law, Mike Wooten.

There is no sign that Palin's formal nomination this week at the Republican National Convention was in jeopardy. The controversy adds anxiety to Republicans who are worried that Democrats would use the selection of Palin to question McCain's judgment. Republicans were quick to note that Palin has "more executive experience" in elected office than does Obama and have gone on the offensive.

McCain's choice of Palin came as a shock to some, after it was expected that McCain would choose Joe Lieberman, Tim Pawlenty, or Tom Ridge for the vice presidential nomination. McCain had reportedly met Palin only twice before her selection, and had his first face-to-face interview with her on August 28. McCain offered Palin the vice presidential spot just moments after their meeting concluded. The two appeared at a campaign rally event the following morning in Dayton, Ohio.


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