CARSON, Calif., 4 October 2008 -- This is not typical Republican territory, but Sarah Palin temporarily changed the demographics Saturday by filling the Home Depot Center with more than 13,000 enthusiastic supporters. The unusual location was matched with a surprise introduction by Shelly Mandell, president of the National Association of Women (NOW) Los Angeles chapter. "I'm proud to support Sarah Palin...a woman who will fight for woman's rights, a woman who will fight for the middle class" she said. "Sarah Palin has what it takes to lead [the] charge...This is what a feminist looks like"
Ms. Mandell made it clear she was speaking as an individual and not as a representative of NOW, which has officially endorsed Barack Obama for president. Palin took the stage with a less rigid interpretation, however, as she thanked Mandell for both the "introduction" and "endorsement" from the self-proclaimed life-long Democrat.
It's unclear how the McCain-Palin campaign will benefit from this bit of political theater. With just 31 days to go until election day, what made this event strategically important? With California undoubtedly in the Obama column, the idea of courting the state's women, Independents, or even Democrats likely won't make at a difference. Perhaps the strategy was to generate national TV coverage of cheering fans -- which indeed there were thousands, filled to capacity and overflowing into the adjacent soccer stadium. But Saturday is a typically small news day with relatively small audiences?
Of course one good reason to visit California is fundraising. Obama netted $9 million at an event last month in Hollywood. But this Palin event was free. So why do it, given that the electoral clock is ticking down?
Perhaps it was just for party goodwill, which Palin certainly generated no shortage of today. "We needed CPR, and that lady put the electronic shock paddles on the whole party," enthused Lisa McCain who attended the rally. Debbie Richards, a teacher from Rancho Palos Verdes, was not certain what the next four years will hold, but "I think she's got potential to go far...it could be Palin and Hillary [running against one another for president] in four years."
Democrats may have hoped a poor debate performance would put an end to Palin's political career, but she cleared that hurdle and is now looking ahead....maybe it's 2012 rather than November 4th? With at least 30 days to court supporters and build a political future; why not stop in California and build up her political support structure -- even if it has dubious benefits to the McCain campaign.