RALEIGH, N.C. — Republican John McCain’s announcement Friday that first-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be his vice presidential running mate has local voters talking.
GOP supporter Jerod Johnson, a teacher, hasn’t had a chance to form an opinion on Palin.
“I got to read up and figure out who she is and where she stands. McCain’s been out there, but I have no idea who she is,” Johnson said.
Palin, 44, was the mayor of the 9,800-resident city of Wasilla and has been governor less than two years. She is the first Republican woman on a presidential ticket.
Undecided voter Brian O’Haver said the McCain/Palin ticket gives him something to think about.
“I don’t know much about her, so I can’t form an opinion yet, but I thought it was an interesting move,” O’Haver said.
During Palin’s speech after she was introduced Friday, she referred to Democrat Sen. Hillary Clinton's leaving “18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America.” Clinton unsuccessfully battled Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Locals who supported Clinton are questioning McCain’s motives for naming Palin to the GOP ticket.
“I thought he was trying to pull a fast one, trying to get the women that were in Hillary’s camp,” former Clinton supporter Midge Silverman said. The decision to include Palin has not swayed Silverman to support the GOP ticket.
Judy Davis, another former Clinton supporter, said she was not supporting the GOP ticket because of Palin either.
“Not in the least. I don’t go for that kind of ploys,” Davis said.
Upon McCain’s announcement, North Carolina Republicans praised Palin's record of reform and principled leadership.
"Governor Palin is extremely qualified and has a wonderful reputation as a fighter and reformer," Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., said in a written statement. "She and John McCain share a commitment to our long-held core values and roots, limited government, and a strong presence in the world as we face multiple threats to liberty and freedom."
“I think Gov. Sarah Palin, a former mayor with a background of cleaning up state government, is a great choice for vice president," Pat McCrory, the mayor of Charlotte and Republican gubernatorial candidate, said in a statement.
"Sarah Palin proves that sometimes it takes a mayor to clean up state government," McCrory added.
Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said in a statement that Palin's record shows substantive accomplishments.
"Governor Palin is a strong, pro-life conservative with a proven track record of reform in Alaska, effectively bringing accountability and transparency to government," Burr said. "Her experience as a chief executive of a state that is at the forefront of the energy debate will complement John McCain's experience and leadership."
McCrory painted the difference between the vice presidential candidates as an advantage for Palin.
"The contrast between the reformer and the outsider – Palin and the consummate insider who has been a U.S. senator for over 20 years, Joe Biden – is just as stark as the contrast in this campaign for governor of North Carolina," McCrory said.
Former N.C. co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and Obama-Biden supporter Barbara Allen described Palin as being “frighteningly unprepared” for the vice presidential job, much less the presidency.
“She has been mayor of a small town and served for less than two years as governor of a state with fewer people than the Triangle. For John McCain to think that those of us who supported Hillary Clinton will be drawn to him by putting a woman on the ticket is insulting. Choosing a woman as a running mate does not change the reality that John McCain does not support issues that women care about,” Allen said in a statement.