Conservative ranging from Pat Toomey of Club for Growth to James Dobson of Focus on the Family cheered Sen. John McCain’s (R.-Ariz.) pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate, even as the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) criticized Palin for lacking experience and wanting to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The Club for Growth applauded Palin for advocating oil-drilling in ANWR and as “a reformer unafraid to take on the establishment."
A statement by the Club for Growth noted that when Palin was only nine months into her term she instructed her state government to abandon the $223 million “bridge to nowhere” project that had been earmarked for her state by Republican members of Congress.
“At a time when many Republicans are still clinging to pork-barrel politics, Governor Palin has quickly become a leader on this issue,” Club for Growth President Pat Toomey stated. “She is a principled reformer who understands how badly wasteful spending has marred the Republican brand.”
While also applauding Palin as a reformer, Focus on the Family’s Dobson pointed to her credentials as a pro-life conservative who rejected advice that she abort her youngest child, who has Down syndrome.
“Sen. McCain’s selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is an outstanding choice that should be extremely reassuring to the conservative base of his party,” said Dobson in a statement. “She is a strong executive who hates corruption and puts principle above politics. After floating the names of Tom Ridge and Sen. Joe Lieberman in recent weeks--selections that would have created consternation among pro-family Republicans--Sen. McCain has chosen a solid conservative who has a reputation for espousing common sense.”
“Gov. Palin’s commitment to the sanctity of life is not just a political position,” said Dobson. “She was advised to abort her fifth and youngest child when it was learned he had Down syndrome. She refused. That’s bravery and integrity in action."
David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, predicted that conservatives will now rally around a McCain campaign that up to now they had given only tepid support.
“The selection of Governor Palin is great news for conservatives, for the party and for the country,” said Keene in a statement. “Her dedication to principle, her courage both before and after her election as Governor of Alaska and her personal qualities make her a perfect choice for Vice President. I predict any conservatives who have been lukewarm thus far in their support of the McCain candidacy will work their hearts out between now and November for the McCain-Palin ticket."
Republican National Coalition for Life Chairman Phyllis Schlafly also had nothing but praise for Palin, who is scheduled to speak at RNC for Life’s party next week in St. Paul.
"Sarah Palin is an outstanding governor, an exemplar of all that is good and true,” said Schlafly. “She is a major leader in the pro-life movement and that is main reason we chose her as our keynote speaker for our ‘Life of the Party’ party at this year’s GOP convention."
RNC for Life Executive Director Colleen Parro was equally enthusiastic. “John McCain has just won the election with this pick,” said RNC for Life Executive Director Colleen Parro. “Governor Palin will have wide appeal among social conservatives and pro-life Republicans."
Republican strategist Greg Mueller, who served as a senior advisor to the presidential campaigns of Steve Forbes and Pat Buchanan, argued that Palin will help McCain appeal to socially conservative, working-class swing voters.
"Conservatives will be thrilled with this pick,” said Mueller. “Governor Palin is a down the line mainstream conservative who will energize the base and reach across party lines attracting women voters, independents and blue collar Democrats.”
“With almost one fourth of women voters undecided, Senator McCain has made a brilliant choice by picking a blue-collar conservative woman who will excite the Republican Party and lay out the welcome matt for independents and disaffected Clinton voters,” said Mueller.
"This week in Denver, the Democrats did a lot of talking about the glass ceiling,” said Mueller, “but today the glass ceiling was shattered by not by Barack Obama and the Democrats, but by Senator McCain, Governor Palin and the Republican Party.”
Family Research Council Action President Tony Perkins praised Palin for her defense of traditional marriage.
“Governor Palin also believes that marriage is between one man and one woman,” said Perkins. “In a speech in 2006, she expressed her disappointment in an Alaskan Supreme Court ruling ordering that the state provide benefits to same-sex partners. 'I disagree with the recent court decision because I feel as though Alaskans spoke on this issue with its overwhelming support for a Constitutional Amendment in 1998 which defined marriage as between a man and woman.'"
Shortly after McCain announced that Palin was his choice, Bill Burton, a spokesman for the Obama presidential campaign, put out a statement criticizing her both for her conservative views and as lacking experience.
“Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency," stated Burton.
"Governor Palin shares John McCain's commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush's failed economic policies. That's not the change we need, it's just more of the same," stated Burton.
Later in the day, Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) put out a statement congratulating Palin.
"While we obviously have differences over how best to lead this country forward Governor Palin is an admirable person and will add a compelling new voice to this campaign," the statement said.
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan criticized McCain for choosing a pro-life running mate.
"John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate proves just how rigid and extreme his administration would be when it comes to a woman’s right to choose," Keenan said in a statement. "For 25 years, McCain has opposed a woman’s right to choose, and we know that he will continue to push anti-choice policies in the White House. McCain’s pick of anti-choice Sarah Palin is further evidence that his White House will be just another four years of Bush-style policies. Any remaining doubts about McCain’s extreme anti-choice position should be put to rest when voters learn about the combined anti-choice records of Sarah Palin and John McCain."
Joe Solomese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual-rights advocacy group, posted a statement on the group's website criticizing Palin.
“America may not know much about Sarah Palin, but based on what our community has seen of her, we know enough,” Solmonese stated. “Sarah Palin not only supported the 1998 Alaska constitutional amendment banning marriage equality but, in her less than two years as Governor, even expressed the extreme position of supporting stripping away domestic partner benefits for state workers. When you can’t even support giving our community the rights to health insurance and pension benefits, it’s a frightening window into where she stands on equality.”