Republican presidential nominee John McCain applauds during remarks by his vice presidential selection, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. - AP

Local Republican leaders optimistic about VP nomination

John McCain swatted one out of the ballpark with his selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, says Bryan Platt.

"He hit a home run on this one," said the chairman of the Jackson County Republican Central Committee.

"She brings so many strategic advantages to the Republican ticket," he added. "She brings the issues of women's rights. She will bring in support from gun owners and pro-lifers. She brings in people who support drilling in ANWR (Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge). She brings executive experience, family experience. It goes on and on. I could not be more pleased."

Platt said he thinks she brings more executive experience than Barack Obama, McCain's Democratic opponent.

Palin, 44, was mayor of Wasilla — population 6,500, situated about 40 miles east of Anchorage — until elected governor in 2006.

She is a conservative known for a maverick streak.

"I think John McCain has one-upped the Democrats big time," Platt said, adding he believes the selection will energize the GOP base.

But state Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, is waiting to learn more about Palin.

"It was unexpected," he said. "Obviously, it was politically motivated, to state the obvious. I hope she can rise to the potential and the challenges this will bring to bear.

"From a political strategy position, it's a good choice to have a family-oriented female candidate," he added. "As a practical matter, the question is what's best for the country. If she were a man I don't think she would have been selected based on her resume."

Richardson said voters should closely watch the GOP national convention beginning Monday in St. Paul, Minn. to get a better understanding of what the McCain-Palin ticket has to offer.

"We will get a chance to know what she stands for and if she will be a good leader," he said. "I'm like a majority of people — I'm watching closely to see what is best for our country.

"I'm focusing less on the party and more on the quality of the candidates and their ability to lead," he said.

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Smith of Medford, an elder statesman for the GOP in Oregon, believes the selection will fire up voters in the West this fall.

"I thought it was brilliant," he said. "It does some special things for we in the West. Would you rather have your business in the West conducted by somebody from Illinois and Delaware or by somebody from Arizona and Alaska? We in the West sometimes feel left out."

The selection will also draw female voters, he predicted.

"She will take a lot of the Hillary women," he said, noting he has met Palin. "She is a solid lady, very articulate."

State Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, used the same analogy as Platt.

"I think the Republicans hit a home run," Esquivel said. "We have an articulate, intelligent woman who is up to the task. It's a win-win, not just for the Republican party but also for the United States.

"We have people really stoked about this," he added. "And it's not just Republicans, but we also have Democrats stoked about this."

Longtime Democratic party activist Mort Mondale of Selma says he's glad to see a woman picked as McCain's running mate. It was his brother, Walter "Fritz" Mondale, vice president in the Carter administration, who first broke the major party tradition by selecting Geraldine Ferraro as his vice presidential candidate in 1984.

"I think it's a good thing, a fine thing," Mort Mondale said of selecting a woman as a running mate. "There has to be a mission for equality in our country, whether it's Republican or Democrat. This is a very good thing.

"We've come a long way with a black man running for president and a woman running for vice president," he added.

While he applauds McCain for picking a woman as his running mate, that doesn't mean the liberal Democrat supports the McCain-Palin team in the general election.

"You can bet the farm I won't vote that ticket," he said.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at

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