I watched Governor Sarah "Sarah Barracuda" Palin deliver her speech last night from the middle of the California delegation, down on the convention floor. Most absolutely adored it. A couple thought she went too far with the snarky, biting sarcasm. But there's no question she absolutely wowed this crowd - and most of the media watching it here.
Funny thing; yesterday the McCain campaign hated all of us. Now they're quoting us. The RNC blasted out an email highlighting the mainstream media's rave reviews of Palin's speech (CBS, CNN, ABC, The New York Times - "simply brilliant," "a star is born," "electrifying," "a force to be reckoned with") - one of those "What They're Saying" press releases. As my managing editor quipped, "I guess they like the media elite now!"
The Republicans seem to have turned up the air conditioning in the convention hall today - the better to freeze our elite little media typing fingers. I sat down with Katie Couric for an interview over lunch today (she had a green salad with lots of strawberries and craisins in it - what is a craisin anyway?). She was shivering, all bundled up in a shawl. It could be part of the GOP's anti-media conspiracy. Maybe they'll turn up the thermostat now that we all have crushes on Sarah Palin. Or maybe the colder air is to keep everyone awake during John McCain's FIFTY-FOUR MINUTE acceptance speech. That length could be a big mistake for the sometimes excitement-challenged McCain.
So, what did you think of Palin's speech? I thought it was very well-written, as expected, and delivered quite well, again, not surprising. Palin was calm, relaxed, comfortable and charming. She's a natural on the stage, Reaganesque almost. The four days she spent holed up at the Hyatt Regency here with speechwriter Matt Scully and other McCain campaign staffers obviously paid off. Expect her to repeat some version of that speech from New Hampshire to Nevada over the next two months. She's obviously quite comfortable in the traditional running mate pit bull role - does that mean she'll stop wearing lipstick? She could put Obama and Biden in an uncomfortable position. If they attack her, the McCain-Palin campaign cries "sexism!" If they lay off, she punches them in the face (rhetorically speaking). But if her snidest moments grated even on some of the GOP loyalists in this hall, imagine how they might irritate the suburban Democrats and independents McCain needs to win. Her Fargo-voiced hockey mom routine could wear thin out on the campaign trail.
I ran into McCain, with his wife Cindy and Joe Lieberman, in the bowels of the arena a few minutes ago. He had just done his walk-through on the stage; I was on my way back from lunch. I got stopped in a corridor by the Secret Service, and then along came the McCains with Senator Joe. I did not hear Lieberman telling the presidential nominee there was still time to reconsider his running mate selection. McCain flashed a smile and asked how I was doing. I said fine, asked him how he was doing, and whether he's ready for tonight's big speech. He said "sure, ready to go" and gave me a big thumbs up. Unfortunately, I had left my recorder upstairs while buying a club sandwich, but it was such a brief encounter I probably wouldn't have gotten any worthwhile audio out of it anyway.
The Palin frenzy on the Internet has gone viral. How many times have you received the PhotoShopped picture of Palin in a stars-and-stripes bikini wielding a semi-automatic weapon? (it's not really her, sorry guys). How about the email from Democrat Ann Kilkenny of Wasilla, talking about Palin's record there? (that one is real; the New York Times interviewed her and she's an actual friend of an actual friend of mine in Alaska). Maybe I'll send along some excerpts from that one next time if I have time...
By the way, Obama is holding his lead in the polls...even through three days of the Republican Convention. BUT...and it's a big but...the latest Gallup daily tracking poll (Obama still ahead, 49-42) was completed before Sarah Palin's speech, so it doesn't reflect its impact. In tomorrow's numbers, we'll see if Sarah Barracuda took a bite out of Obama's support.
I had more to say but now I have to run...just got a Secret Service alert about a huge war protest...demonstrators are "massing" outside and will attempt to block delegates' buses from getting here to see McCain...media warned to heed police instructions and not get caught up in the dragnet of ruffians and scoundrels (not us; the protesters)...and look out for flying bags of urine....I will get back to you later!