Opinion: Sarah Palin says Gwen Ifill flap will just make her try harder

This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

Sarah Palin -- showing that for all the grief she’s taken of late, she definitely knows the role of a running mate -- was in sync with John McCain today when asked about the controversy surrounding journalist Gwen Ifill.

Ifill, as she did in 2004, will be asking the questions in Thursday’s debate between the two major-party vice presidential nominees -- Palin and Joe Biden. But unlike four years ago, Ifill is writing a book in which the head of one of the national tickets -- in this case, Barack Obama -- figures prominently.

Some conservative leaders, bloggers and others have argued that, by definition, Ifill can no longer claim neutrality as presider of the verbal fray.

McCain, though, cut Ifill some slack, telling Fox News earlier today that he considered her ‘a professional’ who ‘will do a totally objective job.’


Palin was asked her thoughts about the furor as she wrapped up a radio chat this afternoon with Sean Hannity (her second phoner in as many days with a sympathetic talk show radio host). As part of posing the question, Hannity played an audio snippet of Ifill promoting her book. She says its title is ‘The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama,’ and that it expands on Obama’s rapid political rise ‘to cover a whole new generation of black politicians who are doing similar things in different ways.’

Said Palin:

You know, I’m not going to let it be a concern. Let me just tell you that John McCain has been in an underdog position before, and this ticket, I think it is safe to say, is in an underdog position. (See here for confirmation of that.) But that’s what makes us work harder. It makes us want to communicate more clearly and profoundly with the electorate, letting them know what the contrasts are between these two tickets. It’s motivating to me, even, to hear Gwen’s comments there because, again, it makes us work that much harder, and it provides even more fairness and objectivity and choices for the voters on Nov. 4, if we try that much harder.

Many Palin backers remained irked. Longtime conservative activist Richard Viguerie, in a statement/blog posting, questioned how negotiators for the McCain ticket could have ‘signed off on a liberal moderator who has a book coming out on Inauguration Day heralding the ‘Age of Obama’?’

He added:

Imagine if one of the officials at Super Bowl earlier this year had had a book coming out on Super Bowl Sunday entitled ‘Dynasty: The Age of the New England Patriots.’ Can you imagine the New York Giants agreeing to that? But then, the New York Giants are a lot smarter than Republicans.

Viguerie’s website includes a petition urging the Commission on Presidential Debates to fire Ifill from her moderator role ‘due to clear ideological and financial conflict of interest.’

-- Don Frederick