I just landed in Minneapolis/St. Paul sitting next to well-known pundit, frequent campaign manager, and former Romney campaign spokesperson Bay Buchanan.
I didn't realize it until today, but Buchanan was Treasurer of the United States under Ronald Reagan -- the youngest person (male or female) to ever be appointed to that position (which among other responsibilities has his or her signature on U.S. currency).
I asked her what she thought about McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate. And her approximate, enthusiastic response was that "Palin changes everything."
Buchanan was not that enthused about the McCain ticket before Friday's announcement. She had previously supported the campaigns of Tom Tancredo and Mitt Romney -- but with Sarah Palin on the ticket, Buchanan's interest in the race has sparked again.
She made an interesting point to me after I talked about my concerns about the clear lack of foreign policy experience. She said, "She's a governor with a state that borders Canada and essentially Russia. Democrats were pushing Kathleen Sebelius, Tim Kaine, and other governors whose foreign policy experience is also next to nothing."
She said Bill Clinton had little experience on the international front when he ran from Arkansas (I didn't argue with this though it's untrue. Both Clintons were working with Bangladesh finance and poverty entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus on microcredit issues as early as 1986 and Governor Bill Clinton was frequently meeting international personalities in order to push Arkansas agriculture products).
But she did convince me that McCain may have solved his sizzle problem. Many women do like Palin -- and while I have concerns about her, just as I've had now and then about Barack Obama and McCain -- there will be a lot who will be drawn to her gutsy, take on Washington's vested interests style as well as to her womanhood.
I left Bay Buchanan in the hall here at the airport and ducked into a Red Carpet Lounge and called ten of my women friends. Three of these woman are Obama supporters. Two are Hillary supporters now attached to Obama. One is a Hillary supporter now supporting McCain. Two were Romney supporters previously. One was a Huckabee supporter. And the last has always been a McCain supporter.
8 of the 10 said that they didn't like how much of the blogosphere was challenging Sarah Palin and how quickly some of the attacks on her had gotten very personal and in their words "slimey." They all said that they were impressed with Palin though most said that they had more to learn about her work, deeds, and background. These eight also thought that McCain would get a big bump among women for the selection.
Two said that they would never support Palin, that they thought she represented a fake choice for women -- given her opposition to a woman's right to make her own reproductive choices.
These unscientific, quick call results are intriguing and should concern Barack Obama and his team.
Dems should be very careful about underestimating this higher-than-expected-sizzle ticket.
-- Steve Clemons publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note