ANCHORAGE – Ed Schultz, the nationally syndicated radio host, came to Alaska looking to find out about Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
The North Dakota-based progressive talker got an earful.
What Schultz heard is that, despite all the talk about Palin’s 80 percent approval rating, plenty of Alaskans have qualms about putting their state’s governor a heartbeat away from the presidency.
“The Republicans have taken this election and turned it into an ‘American Idol’ episode,” said Terry Hamm, one of more than 500 people from the Anchorage area who showed up for the town hall meeting Schultz hosted Saturday night with the help of radio station KUDO-Alaska’s Progressive Voice. “They took the pretty girl and made her the candidate.”
“There are a lot of smart, capable women in the Republican party that John McCain could have chosen as his running-mate: (Maine Senator) Olympia Snowe, (Maine Senator) Susan Collins,” continued Hamm, as she waited in line to speak at the event on the University of Alaska-Anchorage campus. “But Sarah Palin isn’t one of them. She’s not ready to be vice president, let alone president.”
That was the tenor of the talk Saturday night, at a “Come Talk about Sarah Palin” event where Schultz heard the other side of Alaska’s response to the governor’s addition to the Republican ticket.
Appearing on a day when a crowd estimated at 1,500 showed up for an “Alaskan Women Reject Palin” rally outside an Anchorage hall where the governor was speaking to her backers, Schultz heard a litany of complaints about the Republican nominee for vice president.
When the discussion turned to the “Troopergate” scandal, which has focused attention on Palin’s dismissal of the state’s top law enforcement officer after he refused to fire her former brother-in-law, Schultz asked: “If it is proven that the governor abused her position, how does the state respond to that?” asked Schultz.
“Impeachment!” responded members of the crowd.
Of course, that’s not the universal sentiment in Alaska.
There’s no question that Palin has many fans here — including otherwise apolitical Alaskans who simply appreciated the $1,200 “energy rebate” deposits that Palin engineered and that began showing up in their bank accounts Friday.
But, while there is definitely a good deal of home-state pride in the nomination of the governor for the vice presidency, there is as well a fair measure of honest trepidation about whether this particular Alaskan is the right person for the job.