By contributor
updated 8/31/2008 3:28:23 PM ET 2008-08-31T19:28:23

When John McCain realized Joe Lieberman wasn't a feasible running mate, the GOP presidential candidate stuck to his "maverick" roots by selecting little-known Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska.

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Appearing on "Meet the Press," Mitchell explained the potential backlash to the choice of Lieberman. The Republican National Party chairman was informed there would be a fight on the floor of the convention to protest the nomination of Lieberman, undercutting any show of unity within the party.

Mitchell also reported that McCain had only met with Palin twice — briefly — and never in an actual “job interview.” Mitchell continued, stating, “This choice doesn’t get to how [McCain] will govern; it gets to how he will make decisions.  [If nothing else,] it’s a fascinating portrait of John McCain.”

The political roundtable was broadly split on the choice of Palin. Presidential Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin called it “a very strange choice.” Goodwin stressed that the vice presidency is no longer the punch line it once was, revealing that one in three American presidents has been replaced by his running mate. Calling Palin charming and personable, Goodwin said that nonetheless, one couldn’t help but wonder about the pressure of the spotlight Palin is about to submit herself to. “You could be Einstein and not be ready to answer the questions you guys are going to throw at her,” she commented to moderator Tom Brokaw.

NBC's David Gregory and CNBC's Maria Bartiromo saw a silver lining in the bold pick. “Her biggest value is her expertise in energy…which is the biggest crisis we face,” Bartiromo commented, adding, “It’s a very savvy pick, I think.” Gregory pointed out that the campaign could afford to surrender the “no experience” argument in place of the “change in Washington” stance. “If they don’t get into the debate about who can bring you change, they could lose and lose badly,” he said.

NBC's Mike Murphy agreed that reframing the debate was in the Republican's best interest, calling Palin “a rootin’ tootin’ candidate” who was strong on charisma. But, he added, McCain was taking an extraordinary risk by choosing a candidate who has had so little experience on the national stage. “What new voters will she bring?” he asked. “As a strategic pick she is very fragile. One bad gaffe, or two in a row and the press will pile on.”

Murphy also noted that neither Obama nor his running mate Joe Biden had made any reference to Palin on the campaign trail, expecting the press “to make Sara Palin famous in a bad way,” and keep their own hands clean in the process.


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