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Thursday, September 04, 2008

AMERICAN WOMAN: SARAH PALIN ACCEPTS GOP VP NOD; FIRST WOMAN ON TICKET IN PARTY HISTORY; ADDRESSES NATION; CAMPAIGN SEEN SHUFFLED, AT LEAST FOR NOW 

New drama was breathed into an already melodramatic race for the White House Wednesday night as political unknown Sarah Palin, 44, stepped onto the national political stage and confidently--sometimes almost cockily--accepted the Republican vice-presidential nomination. She becomes the first woman in her party's history to do so, adding yet another element of uncertainty into a contest that is perplexing the pundits and providing the most exciting backdrop for a presidential face-off since the strife-torn 1960's. (Speech transcript here. Video here.)

In key swing state New Mexico, the political community dropped everything to focus on Alaska Governor Palin in Saint Paul. Veteran NM Democratic analyst Harry Pavlides was among them, and we peeled the political onion with him on the late night beat.

HOW DID SHE DO?

She has talent...She is going to be formidable. She made no mistakes; she hit every line, every joke, the way it was supposed to be. She's a pro, an entertainer, a communicator.

HOW DOES SHE PLAY IN NM?

The Republicans are going to be able to send her around most parts of the state. The only place I don't see her playing well is in the Hispanic north. She is dangerous for the Democrats because as a woman and a mother, she is going to be hard to counterattack. Because she had a solid debut, some Hillary Clinton supporters could be wooed. Not many, but all it takes is a few in a close race. Will they say, 'If we can't break the glass ceiling with Hillary, we'll break it with her?'

HOW DO DEMS DEFEND?

Obama is going to need women like (Lt. Governor) Diane Denish to take on Palin when she comes here. (Palin will be in ABQ Saturday with McCain). Another Anglo woman taking her on is the safest route. Denish fits the bill.

WON'T PALIN BE FORGOTTEN SOON?
Pavlides
This time may be different. She is the first Republican woman in this position. We could still be talking about her in October. The best thing for the Dems is if they could take her out early in the VP debate. For now, I expect Palin to give McCain a bigger post-convention bounce than he would have gotten without her. That alone is significant.

OTHER THOUGHTS?

Sarah Palin is Spiro Agnew in a pony tail. She will be a pit bull with lipstick. But she held back on the extreme right-wing rhetoric. That gives her a chance to appeal to moderate moms in the 35 to 50 age group and independents who are leaning Obama...

Thanks, Harry. For those under a certain age, Agnew was VP under Nixon. He was known for his ardous defense of Nixon and his attacks on the media--"nattering nabobs of negativism."

READER REACT

From the e-mail bag following the Palin speech: "...She gave a great speech. The question is can she handle the response? The gloves are definitely off. As we would say in the Fighter Squadron, "Fight's On!"

TOP R'S BASH PALIN

Top GOP analysts Peggy Noonan and Mike Murphy must have wanted to crawl under the table when they learned what they thought were off-mike remarks on MSNBC about VP pick Sarah Palin were actually picked up and taped. Noonan, one of the nation's best political speechwriters, was caught calling the Palin choice, "political bullshit.' Murphy, a longtime confidante of McCain's, called the choice "cynical" and "gimmicky." Noonan added that she believed the campaign was "over" for McCain. Later, she maintained, "I do not think the campaign is over, I do not think this is settled, and did not suggest..that 'It's over.'

Remember politicos, the microphone is always on, if you're in front of one.

ABQ CONGRESS: NEW ACTION
Heinrich vs. White
Supporters of Dem congressional hopeful Martin Heinrich were buoyed by a poll released by the Roll Call newspaper Wednesday showing him ahead of Republican Darren White 51% to 46%. The poll of 631 likely voters, conducted Aug. 26-28 for Roll Call by SurveyUSA, an automated polling firm, had a 4-point margin of error.

Politics watchers will immediately note that there can't be only 3% of the electorate undecided at this early stage of the race. Also, we are awaiting the ABQ Journal's first poll which uses a tight screen to determine the most likely voters. Still, any independent poll that shows the Democrat leading is a shot in the arm, and a warning shot across the bow of White and the Republicans. We asked political veteran Steve Cabiedes, who has worked the district over the years, for his take.

"The rope a dope strategy by both candidates--basically not doing much real fighting--may now be working more for Heinrich. If there is a Democratic wave forming, it could carry him in with Obama. We've been talking about how Heinrich needs to get moving because he is the lesser known of the two, but the same applies to White."

The Dem wave of 2006 almost swept Patrica Madrid into office over ABQ GOP US Rep. Heather Wilson. Heinrich advocates are saying a Dem Tsunami wave in ABQ could carry their man to victory. Much of the former city councilor's strategy seems hooked to that notion. It's not so much the specific numbers in the new poll that are important--they can be argued over---it is the trend that is getting Martin's heart beating a little faster.

MORE ON THIS

The poll also shows Obama carrying the ABQ congressional district by a huge 55% to 41% over McCain. That's probably too large a lead because of the survey method and a Dem convention bounce. Kerry won the district by just three points when Patsy came so close to Heather. Can Obama do better? If the polls start to say so, it will be more good news for the Dems and will put more pressure on Darren to define Martin and prevent him from riding any OBama coattails. Still, look at Darren's favorables in the poll. They are pretty good, and could serve him well in the rough waters ahead.

TV TIME

So far, Heinrich has booked about $44,000 in time for the coming four weeks on KOB-TV, a check shows. He has also booked time through most of the election on KRQE. Campaigns pay for their time weekly. We are not yet seeing any TV buys for White.

SARAH IS COMING--REALLY

The confusion over whether Sarah Palin will join McCain in ABQ Saturday appears to finally be over. The Alaska Governor will be here, says the campaign. But they sure had a hard time figuring it out with the media getting different stories from different campaign people. It seems there is drama following Palin wherever she goes.

MICHELLE IS HERE, TOO

Michelle Obama is doing an ABQ-Santa Fe swing today. Here is info on this afternoon's ABQ stop, or call 435-0723. It's a Women for Obama registration rally. In Santa Fe, she will hold a roundtable with military spouses. That event is closed. Maybe they have this thing reversed. Wouldn't the registration rally work better in activist Santa Fe and the military spouse event better in ABQ, home to Kirtland AFB? Just wondering.

A FOLEY FAREWELL

It is a not so fond farewell for outgoing State House Minority Whip from his hometown paper--the Roswell Daily Record. The controversial rep has been in a spirited war with the paper for several years, culminating in his defeat at the polls in the June primary at the hands of retired FBI agent Dennis Kintigh. In a parting shot, the newspaper not only examines Foley's political career, but his fortunes as an independent insurance agent.

ANOTHER OPINION

Here's veteran NM columnist and news reporter Sherry Robinson in the Hobbs News-Sun on the Udall-Pearce Senate race following their separate appearances before a business issues lunch:

Pearce has a low-key, unassuming personal style that's refreshing in an arena of big egos, but he strings his thought into one incredibly long sentence that lasts until he runs out of breath, only he doesn't run out of breath. Maybe he has gills.

Udall entered to tepid applause, not because it a roomful of Republicans--it was more a commentary on the fact he'd kept everyone waiting too long...along with his reluctance to debate. Somebody should tell Udall he's not yet a rock star: This election isn't in the bag...

We like that straight talk, Sherry, and we need more of it in the press. Sychophants are on notice.

BILL'S BUCKS

Did you know Big Bill's personal wealth has been estimated by the AP to be in the $10 million range? That's a lame duck with a golden nest.

BOTTOM LINES
Heinrich & Hoyer
US House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer helped northern Dem congressional hopeful Ben Ray Lujan raise about $52,000 at an ABQ fundraiser Wednesday night, informs KKOB radio reporter Peter St. Cyr who says Hoyer also had a money lunch for ABQ congressional candidate Martin Heinrich. And get this. They had it in Santa Fe--in Lujan's district. Hoyer and Heinrich brushed off questions about how much was raised at the event. Was it added after the Alligators revealed that Hoyer and Lujan were coming onto Heinrich's turf to raise money? Hoyer also did a press event with Heinrich at Sandia Labs. R's were quick to point out that Hoyer has voted to cut the labs' budget. If both Lujan and Heinrich win in November, will there be intrigue between the duo?...One of the two independents in the northern congressional race, Ron Simmons, has dropped out. That leaves indy Carol Miller, Dem Lujan and R Dan East.

E-mail your news and comments, and drop by again soon.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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