Campaign 2008 Roundup

Historians’ Take on the 2008 US Presidential Campaign Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

John McCain Vice-Presidential Pick…. Governor Sarah Palin

Posted by bonniekgoodman on August 29, 2008

Democratic Convention Roundup

The Day That Was….

  • August 29, 2008: John McCain Chooses Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin as his running-mate, making her the first woman on the Republican ticket. – NYT, 8-30-08
  • August 28, 2008: Obama accepts historic nomination; first black nominee says he’d cut taxes, end oil dependence … Ohio woman seeks to debunk Internet rumors in convention speech … McCain makes decision on his vice presidential pick … – AP, 8-29-08
Senator John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska in Dayton, Ohio, on Friday. (NYT)

Senator John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska in Dayton, Ohio, on Friday. (NYT)

The Stats

  • Sarah Palin, Profile in the New York Times – NYT
  • FactChecking Obama: He stuck to the facts, except when he stretched them. – Newsweek, 8-29-08

In the News…

Historians’ Comments

  • Edward “Ted” Frantz, associate professor of history at U of Indianapolis on “Historian: McCain’s choice adds surprise element to historic race”: “It’s certainly historic for the Republican Party,” says Edward “Ted” Frantz, associate professor of history at UIndy. “This is a landmark election that will be studied throughout American history.”… “Except for the extreme insiders, I don’t think anybody anticipated this,” Frantz said. Palin’s youth may appeal to voters who otherwise have been attracted to Barack Obama’s youth-oriented campaign, Frantz said. And her gender might inspire support from Democrats who have not yet warmed up to Obama. “I think it’s designed for those disaffected Hillary voters,” Frantz said. – University of Indianapolis, 8-29-08
  • Professor Tom Baldino of Wilkes University, Pennsylvania on “McCain’s surprise VP pick is little-known woman governor”: “It clearly makes it more difficult for McCain to criticize Obama’s experience.” – AFP, 8-29-08
  • U.S. to make election history one way or another – Reuters, 8-29-08
  • Waldo Martin, Jr. on “Obama’s Significance in History Felt By Professors Faculty Members Reflect on the Meaning of Presidential Candidate’s Nomination at Yesterday’s Democratic Convention”: “I was thrilled,” Martin said. “The whole idea of his nomination is thrilling. In my lifetime, I would not have predicted this could happen.” Yesterday also marked the first session of the class that Martin is co-teaching with Mark Brilliant, an assistant professor in history and American studies, titled “Civil Rights and Social Movements in U.S. History: Struggles for Racial Equality in Comparative Perspective, World War II-Present.” Martin said he wants to examine how Obama has built a multifaceted coalition that includes young voters, African Americans and Democrats. “One thing that Obama talks a lot about is hope,” Martin said. “How do you sustain hope, possibility? How do you create change? These are the kinds of issues we talk about in class.” – Daily Californian, CA, 8-29-08
  • Mark Peterson on “Obama’s Significance in History Felt By Professors Faculty Members Reflect on the Meaning of Presidential Candidate’s Nomination at Yesterday’s Democratic Convention”: Obama’s rise to national prominence also carries significance for UC Berkeley scholars of early American history. One such individual is associate professor Mark Peterson, whose History 7A class will largely focus on slavery. “(Obama) is an African American who is somewhat statistically or historically in the minority in that the vast majority of African Americans in the U.S. have ancestors who were brought to the New World as slaves,” he said. “It gives him an interesting perspective on the variety of the American historical experience.” Peterson said he has known about the senator since before his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention-all the way back to the mid-1980s, when he saw a “tall, striking-looking” figure walking around the Harvard Law School campus. “I never met him,” Peterson said. “There are common people on campus that you just sort of recognize.” – Daily Californian, CA, 8-29-08
  • Robert Allen, an adjunct professor of African American studies and ethnic studies on “Obama’s Significance in History Felt By Professors Faculty Members Reflect on the Meaning of Presidential Candidate’s Nomination at Yesterday’s Democratic Convention”: For Robert Allen, an adjunct professor of African American studies and ethnic studies, the changes between 1963 and 2008 seem astonishing. “While I thought we were making great progress with the March on Washington, I thought we were also generations away from the possibility of electing a black president,” said Allen, who grew up in racially segregated Georgia. “For me, history has been speeded up.” The syllabus for Allen’s fall seminar, “Men of Color in the United States,” includes for the first time Obama’s memoir “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.” Allen said he plans to use it to study the politician’s background as a community organizer. Daily Californian, CA, 8-29-08
  • Sean Wilentz: Barack Obama vs. Jimmy Carter: More Similar Than You’d Think?: There are many ways, several ways in which Barack Obama’s candidacy, his rhetoric is more like Jimmy Carter’s than any other Democratic president in recent memory. He has talked about rejecting the old politics, attacking special interests and lobbyists, wearing his Christian ideals on his sleeve. All of that is very much Carteresque in many ways…
    He came across that way in his speech tonight in some ways. He tried to in terms of squaring the circle, and saying you can have this and you can have that. The difference is, I think, President Clinton did something of a better idea, gave you a better idea how he was going to do, which is what you were saying before, how he was going to do the things that he said he was going to do it…
    It is hard to judge judgment when you do not have a long record. Look, I am a Democratic liberal and I am all for him and I want to see him do well, and I think he is started to show something of that in the speech tonight. There was more meat on the bones, if you will, about not simply his judgment but about where he wants to take the country. But you do have to see how a person reacts under fire. Now, in some ways, you only find that out after a person is in the Oval Office; that is one of the gambles we take. You have to take a measured — make your own measured judgment really about what the person is saying to you, is the person going to deliver on what you want, and does that show the kind of thought, the kind of appreciation of the fix that we’re in as a country as well as what is good for us as a country to lead us forward. It is harder to do without a record, there’s no question about it, but you can tell something — that’s what a presidential campaign all about — you can tell something about that from speeches like tonight…
    For Barack Obama, I think just to build on what he started on tonight and to tell us more, particularly on foreign policy, actually. I think that that was not one of the strongest parts of the speech tonight. Not just to say that he can be commander in chief, but to show that he knows something about the international situation, that he an overall idea of the international situation and he’s going to act on it. – Fox News, 8-29-08
  • Gil Troy: Historical immortality Obama has made his mark by seizing leadership of the party that was once the bastion of racists – The Montreal Gazette, 8-29-08

On the Campaign Trail….

  • Senator John McCain of Arizona speaking in Dayton, Ohio:…I’m very happy — I’m very happy today to spend my birthday with you and to make a historic announcement in Dayton, a city built on hard, honest work of good people.Like the entire industrial Midwest, Dayton has contributed much to the prosperity and progress of America, and now, in these tough, changing times, after all you’ve done for our country, you want your government to understand what you’re going through, to stand on your side and fight for you. And that’s what I intend to do.That’s why I’m running for president: to fight for you, to make government stand on your side, not in your way.Friends, I’ve spent the last few months… … looking for a running mate that will who can best help me shake up Washington and make it start working again for the people that are counting on us.

    As I’m sure you know, I had many good people to choose from, all of them dedicated to this country and to getting us back on the road to prosperity and peace. And I am very grateful to all of them, and honored by their willingness to serve with me.

    And I’m going to continue to rely on their support and counsel during this campaign, and after we win this election, when the real work begins.

    But I could only choose one. And it’s with great pride and gratitude that I tell you I have found the right partner to help me stand up to those who value their privileges over their responsibilities, who put power over principle, and put their interests before your needs.

    I found someone with an outstanding reputation for standing up to special interests and entrenched bureaucracies; someone who has fought against corruption and the failed policies of the past; someone who’s stopped government from wasting taxpayers’ money… … on things they don’t want or need and put it back to work for the people; someone with executive experience, who has shown great tenacity and skill in tackling tough problems, especially our dangerous dependence on foreign oil; someone who reached across the aisle and asked Republicans, Democrats and independents to serve in government; someone with strong principles of fighting spirit and deep compassion…

    … someone who grew up in a decent, hardworking, middle-class family, whose father was an elementary school teacher and mother was the school secretary.

    They taught their children to care about others, to work hard and to stand up with courage for the things you believe in.

    Both of them were coaches, too, and raised their children to excel at sports.

    And I’m sure they taught them skills that will surely come in handy over the next two months.

    The person I’m about to introduce to you was a union member and is married to a union member and understands the problems, the hopes and the values of working people, knows what it’s like to worry about mortgage payments and health care and the cost of gasoline and groceries; a standout high school point guard; a concerned citizen who became a member of the PTA, then a city council member, and then a mayor, and now a governor…

    … who beat the long odds to win a tough election on a message of reform and public integrity. And I am especially proud to say in the week we celebrate the anniversary of women’s suffrage, a devoted… … a devoted wife and a mother of five.

    She’s not — she’s not from these parts and she’s not from Washington. But when you get to know her, you’re going to be as impressed as I am.

    She’s got the grit, integrity, and good sense and fierce devotion to the common good that is exactly what we need in Washington today.

    She knows where she comes from, and she knows who she works for. She stands up for what’s right, and she doesn’t let anyone tell her to sit down.

    She’s fought oil companies and party bosses and do-nothing bureaucrats and anyone who puts their interests before the interests of the people she swore an oath to serve.

    She’s exactly who I need. She’s exactly who this country needs to help me fight…

    … to help me fight the same old Washington politics of me first and country second.

    My friends and fellow Americans…

    I am very pleased and very privileged to introduce to you the next vice president of the United States… … Governor Sarah Palin of the great state of Alaska.

  • Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska speaking in Dayton, Ohio:And I thank you, Senator McCain and Mrs. McCain, for the confidence that you have placed in me. Senator, I am honored to be chosen as your running mate.I will be honored to serve next to the next president of the United States.I know that when Senator McCain gave me this opportunity, he had a short list of highly qualified men and women. And to have made that list at all, it was a privilege. And to have been chosen brings a great challenge.I know that it will demand the best that I have to give, and I promise nothing less.

    First — first, there are a few people whom I would like you to meet. I want to start with my husband, Todd.

    And Todd and I are actually celebrating our 20th anniversary today. And I promised him…

    I had promised Todd a little surprise for the anniversary present, and hopefully he knows that I did deliver.

    And then we have as — after my husband, who is a lifelong commercial fisherman, lifetime Alaskan. He’s a production operator.

    Todd is a production operator in the oil fields up on Alaska’s North Slope. And he’s a proud member of the United Steelworkers union. And he’s a world-champion snow machine racer.

    Todd and I met way back in high school. And I can tell you that he is still the man that I admire most in this world.

    Along the way, Todd and I have shared many blessings. And four out of five of them are here with us today.

    Our oldest son, Track, though, he’ll be following the presidential campaign from afar. On September 11th of last year, our son enlisted in the United States Army.

    Track now serves in an infantry brigade. And on September 11th, Track will deploy to Iraq in the service of his country. And Todd and I are so proud of him and of all the fine men and women serving this country

    Next to Todd is our daughter, Bristol, another daughter, Willow, our youngest daughter, Piper, and over in their arms is our son, Trig, a beautiful baby boy. He was born just in April.

    His name is Trig Paxson Van Palin.

    Some of life’s greatest opportunities come unexpectedly. And this is certainly the case today.

    I never really set out to be involved in public affairs, much less to run for this office. My mom and dad both worked at the local elementary school. And my husband and I, we both grew up working with our hands. I was just your average hockey mom in Alaska, raising…

    We’re busy raising our kids. I was serving as the team mom and coaching some basketball on the side. I got involved in the PTA and then was elected to the city council, and then elected mayor of my hometown, where my agenda was to stop wasteful spending, and cut property taxes, and put the people first.

    I was then appointed ethics commissioner and chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. And when I found corruption there, I fought it hard, and I held the offenders to account.

    Along with fellow reformers in the great state of Alaska, as governor, I’ve stood up to the old politics as usual, to the special interests, to the lobbyists, the big oil companies, and the good-old- boy network.

    When oil and gas prices went up so dramatically and the state revenues followed with that increase, I sent a large share of that revenue directly back to the people of Alaska. And we are now — we’re now embarking on a $40 billion natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence.

    I signed major ethics reform. And I appointed both Democrats and independents to serve in my administration. And I championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. In fact, I told Congress — I told Congress, “Thanks, but no thanks,” on that bridge to nowhere.

    If our state wanted a bridge, I said we’d build it ourselves. Well, it’s always, though, safer in politics to avoid risk, to just kind of go along with the status quo. But I didn’t get into government to do the safe and easy things. A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not why the ship is built.

    Politics isn’t just a game of competing interests and clashing parties. The people of America expect us to seek public office and to serve for the right reasons.

    And the right reason is to challenge the status quo and to serve the common good.

    Now, no one expects us to agree on everything, whether in Juneau or in Washington. But we are expected to govern with integrity, and goodwill, and clear convictions, and a servant’s heart.

    Now, no leader in America has shown these qualities so clearly or present so clear a threat to business as usual in Washington as Senator John S. McCain.

    This — this is a moment when principles and political independence matter a lot more than just the party line. And this is a man who has always been there to serve his country, not just his party.

    And this is a moment that requires resolve and toughness, and strength of heart in the American president. And my running mate is a man who has shown those qualities in the darkest of places, and in the service of his country.

    A colleague once said about Senator McCain, “That man did things for this country that few people could go through. Never forget that.” And that speaker was former Senator John Glenn of Ohio.

    And John Glenn knows something about heroism. And I’m going to make sure nobody does forget that in this campaign. There is only one candidate who has truly fought for America, and that man is John McCain.

    This is a moment — this is a moment when great causes can be won and great threats overcome, depending on the judgment of our next president.

    In a dangerous world, it is John McCain who will lead America’s friends and allies in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

    It was John McCain who cautioned long ago about the harm that Russian aggression could do to Georgia and to other small democratic neighbors and to the world oil markets.

    It was Senator McCain who refused to hedge his support for our troops in Iraq, regardless of the political costs.

    And you know what? As the mother of one of those troops, and as the commander of Alaska’s National Guard, that’s the kind of man I want as our commander in chief.

    Profiles in courage: They can be hard to come by these days. You know, so often we just find them in books. But next week when we nominate John McCain for president, we’re putting one on the ballot.

    To serve as vice president beside such a man would be the privilege of a lifetime. And it’s fitting that this trust has been given to me 88 years almost to the day after the women of America first gained the right to vote.

    I think — I think as well today of two other women who came before me in national elections.

    I can’t begin this great effort without honoring the achievements of Geraldine Ferraro in 1984…

    … and of course Senator Hillary Clinton, who showed such determination and grace in her presidential campaign.

    It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America…

    … but it turns out the women of America aren’t finished yet and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.

    So for my part, the mission is clear: The next 67 days I’m going to take our campaign to every part of our country and our message of reform to every voter of every background in every political party, or no party at all.

    If you want change in Washington, if you hope for a better America, then we’re asking for your vote on the 4th of November.

    My fellow Americans, come join our cause.

    Join our cause and help our country to elect a great man the next president of the United States.

    And I thank you, and I — God bless you, I say, and God bless America. Thank you.

  • President George W. Bush said in a statement after calling Palin to wish her luck: “By selecting a working mother with a track record of getting things done, Senator McCain has once again demonstrated his commitment to reforming Washington.” – AFP, 8-29-08
  • Mrs. Clinton issued a statement acknowledging the historic moment that John McCain chose Gov. Sarah Palin as his running-mate: “We should all be proud of Gov. Sarah Palin’s historic nomination, and I congratulate her and Senator McCain. While their policies would take America in the wrong direction, Governor Palin will add an important new voice to the debate.”
  • Senator Barbara Boxer sent a strongly worded statement calling Mr. McCain’s VP choice “dangerous”: The Vice President is a heartbeat away from becoming President, so to choose someone with not one hour’s worth of experience on national issues is a dangerous choice.If John McCain thought that choosing Sarah Palin would attract Hillary Clinton voters, he is badly mistaken. The only similarity between her and Hillary Clinton is that they are both women. On the issues, they could not be further apart.Senator McCain had so many other options if he wanted to put a women on his ticket, such as Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison or Senator Olympia Snowe – they would have been an appropriate choice compared to this dangerous choice. In addition, Sarah Palin is under investigation by the Alaska state legislature which makes this more incomprehensible.
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