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Picking Sarah Palin, Republican Vice President Candidate

Designing a perfect presidential ticket is a challenge to create the perfect brand. This is a brand that has more sides than most national consumer brands. There’s national security, fiscal responsibility, political finesse, voter appeal, succession perceptions, and ethical reputation. And don’t forget, a running mate needs to get along with the presidential candidate; they will spend a lot of time together.

How does Sarah Palin help John McCain?

Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin

Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin

– Problem:  McCain is considered “Washington as usual.” His candidacy is positioned (by Obama) as George Bush’s third term. Palin is a politician who is far from Washington – geographically and ideologically. Shortly after becoming governor of Alaska, Palin sold her office’s executive jet on eBay. Her standard air transportation was aboard Alaska Air. That reminds us of Biden’s association with Amtrak.

– Problem:  Hillary Clinton’s supporters feel disenfranchised by the Democratic primary results. Palin offers these millions of voters a new option. McCain is enough of a man’s man (a former POW, an attractive wife, a no-nonsense reputation, etc.) to maintain the testosterone factor to the voters from the old-boys network. Unfortunately for McCain, most of Hillary Clinton’s supporters won’t vote for a Republican man who left his wife and kids to marry a woman who is 23 years his junior. To get Hillary Clinton’s supporters, McCain needs to dig up some womanizing dirt on the Democrats… find the next Donna Rice or Chappaquiddick.

– Problem:  A vote for Obama is a history-making vote. The attractive notion of the country’s first African-American president is now diluted by the notion of the country’s first female VP. Good move, McCain.

– Problem:  Obama is the candidate of change. We can’t look at the Republican ticket now without seeing a new name to national politics. Palin takes the notion of the traditional American soccer mom and gives it new life and spunk; she is a hockey mom. The NHL’s stock is expected to go up 15% when the markets open. Good move McCain, but give your broker a “buy NHL” order ASAP as a back-up plan.

– Problem: The right wing doesn’t like McCain. It’s certain that the right wing doesn’t like Obama/Biden either. Palin adds a big, new element in the campaign. Palin is pro-life. She is an NRA member who likes to hunt. Rush Limbaugh called McCain’s selection a “brilliant move.” That’s quite an endorsement. Can Palin be brilliant to Rush fans and to Hillary fans at the same time?  No.

– Problem: McCain is old. With Palin at 44 years old and McCain at 72, the average age for the GOP ticket is 58 years. Obama (47) and Biden (65) average out at 56 years. Palin evens out the age thing. Will Palin connect with the young voters like Obama does?  No.  Can McCain get David Beckham to sign on to the ticket as treasurer?

– Problem: Obama engages voters and inspires them emotionally. In her first appearance on the national stage, Palin didn’t show the magic that typifies Democratic events. Can McCain get Rachel Ray or Dr. Phil to sign on to the ticket as treasurer?

– Problem: The price of gas is a powerful issue for voters. Voters don’t trust McCain’s plan (fearing that it’s an extension of the Bush plan). And voters like what they hear from Obama. Palin is from a state sitting on top of a lot of oil. She has experience with the oil business in ways that don’t seem biased like the Bush-Cheney agenda. Palin gives the McCain campaign a strong energy boost.

– Problem: McCain left his first wife (and their kids) to marry Cindy McCain. Palin appears to have enough family values for several people. Does she have enough to make up for McCain’s past?  No. Can McCain get Mother Theresa to sign on to the ticket as treasurer?

– Problem: Voters are hurting economically and Obama appears to care more than McCain. Palin, a working-class mother of five kids, will certainly add compassion to the Republican side. Is it perception or reality? Too early to tell.

What else is there?

– Palin fully supports McCain’s maverick brand. Picking Palin wasn’t business as usual. Plus Palin has a maverick reputation herself. In Alaska, she has bucked her own party.

– Palin won’t get in the way or won’t challenge McCain as the leader. With her inexperience, she will serve as McCain’s loyal lieutenant.

– Palin was a union member and is husband is a union member. The Republican’s have the unions’ support, but it’s important to further ensure the union vote.

– Does Palin remind voters of Dan Quayle?  Let’s hope not. However, it’s important to remember that Bush-Quayle was a winning ticket.

There are strong reasons for McCain to pick Palin. But overall, BRAVO to McCain for stirring things up and selecting Palin. McCain added a lot to his brand. Plus, McCain grabbed the headlines and dominated our conversations within hours of Obama’s acceptance speech. That is quite an accomplishment.




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