Opinion: What Sarah Palin’s gonna say in Thursday’s VP debate with Biden
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Alaska Gov. and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is going through three days of debate prep in rural Arizona. On Thursday she’ll face the Democratic VP nominee, Sen. Joe Biden, who’s no doubt doing his own prep for prime time.
But Palin took a little time off Tuesday to practice some of her speaking points in a surprise phone-radio interview with the popular Hugh Hewitt that gives us an advance glimpse into Palin’s parlance.
Hewitt was an ardent supporter of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney during the primary season.
But he’d be delighted to get Palin on air for his generally conservative audience and, as John McCain’s campaign well knows, would not try what they call any gotcha questions.
Not if he ever wants another national radio scoop like this.
Hewitt and Palin talked about why so many critics seem to despise her, about her family’s sometimes strained expenses, her faith and her professed puzzlement over why critics would mock her faith or beliefs if she isn’t mocking theirs.
Hewitt first asked the 44-year-old mother of five if she could explain the derision, even hate, directed toward her in recent days.
‘Oh, I think they’re just not used to someone coming in from the outside,’ she replied, ‘saying, ‘You know what? It’s time that . . .
. . . normal Joe Six-Pack American is finally represented in the position of vice presidency. And I think that’s kind of taken some people off guard, and they’re out of sorts, and they’re ticked off about it.
‘But it’s motivation for John McCain and I to work that much harder to make sure that our ticket is victorious and we put government back on the side of the people -- of Joe Six-Packs like me -- and we start doing those things that are expected of our government.’
OK, put that down for Thursday night. You’ll hear about Josephine Six-Pack.
Hewitt asked if the governor was surprised by Katie Couric’s kind of pop quizzes.
‘Well, I have a degree in journalism also,’ Palin said. ‘So it surprises me that so much has changed since I received my education in journalistic ethics all those years ago. But I’m not going to pick a fight with those who buy ink by the barrelful. I’m going to take those shots and those pop quizzes and just say, ‘That’s okay. Those are good testing grounds.’ And they can continue on in that mode. That’s good.
‘That makes somebody work even harder. It makes somebody be even clearer and more articulate in their positions. So, really, I don’t fight it. I invite it.’
So put that down too. We’ll see more of spunky Sarah who enraptured the GOP convention audience that night of her acceptance speech.
Does she keep track of all the attacks on her?
‘No, I sure don’t,’ she said. ‘And, thank God, I don’t have time to follow those. You know, I think that those shots too, though, no matter what we’re taking and receiving, it’s nothing compared to what real shots are against Americans in this world.
‘Americans today who are worried about losing their home and figuring out how in the world they’re going to pay their fuel bill next month, and send their kid to college, and may be worried about losing a loved one that they’re sending off to a war zone to protect our rights.
‘Those are the shots that Americans are taking. So all this political nonsense and the lies, the rhetoric that is spun out there about someone just trying to offer themselves up in the name of service to this great country, I’ll take it.’
And a little Sarah Barracuda. Americans wanna see their presidential competitors fight for it.
Many people are struggling? Have you and Todd ever?
‘Oh, my goodness, yes, Hugh. I know what Americans are going through. Todd and I, heck, we’re going through that right now, even as we speak, which may put me again kind of on the outs of those Washington elite who don’t like the idea of just an everyday working-class American running for such an office.
‘But yeah, there’s been a lot of times that Todd and I have had to figure out how we were going to pay for health insurance. We’ve gone through periods of our life here with paying out of pocket for health coverage until Todd and I both landed a couple of good union jobs.
‘Early on in our marriage, we didn’t have health insurance, and we had to either make the choice of paying out of pocket for catastrophic coverage or just crossing our fingers, hoping that nobody would get hurt, nobody would get sick. So I know what Americans are going through there.’
Just normal folks who happen to be running for vice president.
She also talked about her family’s modest investments and 401(k) taking hits in recent days and worries about three more college educations to finance.
Do you think the media and left understand your faith?
‘I think that there’s a lot of mocking of my personal faith, and my personal faith is very, very simple. I don’t belong to any church. I do have a strong belief in God, and I believe that I’m a heck of a lot better off putting my life in God’s hands and saying, ‘Hey, you know, guide me.’ What else do we have but guidance that we would seek from a creator?
‘That’s about as simple as it gets with my faith, and I think that there is a lot of mocking of that. And, you know, so be it -- though I do have respect for those who have differing views than I do on faith, on religion.
‘I’m not going to mock them, and I would hope that they would kind of, I guess, give me the same courtesy through this of not mocking a person’s faith but maybe, perhaps even trying to understand a little bit of it.’
Have you heard from your Army son in the Mideast?
‘That little stinker, I guess he’s called his girlfriend a couple of times, but can you believe he hasn’t called his momma yet?
‘He’s over there. They were just leaving Kuwait heading into Iraq, and I am just so extremely proud of Track, my son, and all of the men and women, of course, serving in the military. I’m proud that my son made this independent and very wise decision as such a young man at 18, deciding, you know, he realized there’s something he can do to help, to contribute, to help protect our nation.
‘I couldn’t be more proud of him and all those who choose to serve in our military. They’re serving for the right reasons. God bless them. God love them.’ (Audio of the 10-minute interview is available here.)
You can bet Biden’s aides are poring over the Hewitt interview too, looking for rehearsed response lines for Biden to drop in with apparent spontaneity.
‘Governor,’ Biden might say, ‘I’m from Scranton, Pa. I know Joe Six-Pack. And, governor, you’re no Joe Six-Pack.’
Then Palin could pause for the derisive laughter to subside and calmly observe: ‘Senator, I know a lot of Joe Six-Packs. And not one of them has been living off the United States Senate like you for 36 years.’
Should be an interesting evening.
-- Andrew Malcolm
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Photo credits: The McCain-Palin campaign; Joe Biden and Sarah Palin / Getty Images; Associated Press (Florida crowd)