Opinion: James Dobson, Barack Obama among those reacting to pregnancy of Sarah Palin’s daughter
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Those quickly issuing statements reacting to the news that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s 17-year-old daughter is pregnant included James Dobson, head of the conservative Focus on the Family religious group, and Barack Obama.
Dobson, who has been noticeably cool toward John McCain’s candidacy but was enthused by the Republican’s selection of Palin as his running mate, had this to say:
In the 32-year history of Focus on the Family, we have offered prayer, counseling and resource assistance to tens of thousands of parents and children in the same situation the Palins are now facing. We have always encouraged the parents to love and support their children and always advised the girls to see their pregnancies through, even though there will of course be challenges along the way. That is what the Palins are doing, and they should be commended once again for not just talking about their pro-life and pro-family values, but living them out even in the midst of trying circumstances. Being a Christian does not mean you’re perfect. Nor does it mean your children are perfect. But it does mean there is forgiveness and restoration when we confess our imperfections to the Lord. I’ve been the beneficiary of that forgiveness and restoration in my own life countless times, as I’m sure the Palins have. The media are already trying to spin this as evidence Gov. Palin is a ‘hypocrite,’ but all it really means is that she and her family are human. They are in my prayers and those of millions of Americans.
On the campaign trail, meanwhile, Obama commented....
...after he finished an appearance in Monroe, Mich.:
I have heard some of the news on this. So let me be as clear as possible. I have said before and I will repeat again. 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 Gov. Palin’s performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president. So I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories. You know my mother had me when she was 18. And how family deals with issues and teenage children, that shouldn’t be the topic of our politics, and I hope that anyone supporting me understands that is off limits.
Mark Salter, the longtime McCain aide and confidant, was peppered with questions from reporters in St. Paul about the news. Asked how he thought delegates to the Republican National Convention and, more broadly, voters would react, he focused on the Palins, saying, ‘It’s a warm, loving supportive family, and they’re all doing the right thing.’
The Times’ Mark Barabak relates that Salter added: ‘These things happen. This has probably happened to millions of American families.’
A journalist noted that those families aren’t running for vice president, to which Salter replied: ‘Millions of Americans will relate to this -– this is a loving, supportive, strong, compassionate family, like many other families.’
As to the effect on the convention, already thrown off kilter by Hurricane Gustav, Salter said the impact would depend on the level of media ‘hysteria’ in covering news of the pregnancy.
‘We’d like to get through this as quickly as we can so the Palins can have some privacy,’ he also said.
Barabak reports that Steve Schmidt, McCain’s campaign manager, took much the same stance when discussing the pregnancy and its possible political fallout. Said Schmidt:
At the end of the day, they have asked for privacy and it will be up to the media whether it is afforded. We don’t have control over it. I think the American people will have a harsh view, potentially, of intrusions into the privacy of a good and decent family.
McCain’s top economic advisor, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, was pressed by reporters -- somewhat incongruously -- about the pregnancy news.
The Times’ Doyle McManus reports that Holtz-Eakin finally snapped: ‘This is the governor’s daughter. It is their issue. This is something we believe ought to be treated with a lot of respect. ... She has a family, she loves that family, and this is their business.’
-- Don Frederick
Bristol Palin, 17, holds her brother Trig during the campaign rally where Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., introduced Bristol and Trig’s mom, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, as his vice presidential running mate in Dayton, Ohio, Friday, Aug. 29, 2008. Sarah Palin said Monday, Sept. 1, 2008, that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is five months pregnant (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)