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Palin hits out at 'elite' critics
Vice-presidential running mate rounds on opponents in Republican convention speech.
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2008 13:50 GMT

Palin spoke glowingly about her family and her running mate [AFP]

Sarah Palin, the US Republican party's nominee for vice-president has attacked her critics, calling them a "Washington elite" out of touch with everyday life in the country.

Palin lashed out at Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, as she made history on Wednesday by becoming the first woman to be nominated for the post by the Republican party.

Speaking at the Republican convention in St Paul, Minnesota, Palin portrayed herself as a Washington outsider.

The governor of Alaska told delegates: "I've learnt quickly these past few days that if you're not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone.

"But here's a little news flash for those reporters and commentators: I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion - I'm going to Washington to serve the good people of this country."

Since John McCain, the Republican party's presidential candidate, made the virtually unknown Palin his choice for running mate last week, she has been at the centre of allegations surrounding her unmarried teenage daughter's pregnancy, her role in the sacking of an Alaskan official and questions about her political record.

Palin's anti-abortion and pro-gun background has also provoked controversy.

'Attack dog'

Palin, 44, said her service as a mayor and a town council member in Wasilla, Alaska, had given her a realistic perspective.

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"When I ran for city council, I didn't need focus groups and voter profiles because I knew those voters, and knew their families, too," she said.

She contrasted that with Obama's background as a community organiser in Chicago and a first-term senator from Illinois.

"Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown. And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves," she said.

"I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organiser', except that you have actual responsibilities."

"Sarah Palin came out as an attack dog - the heart and soul of her speech was a visceral assault on Barack Obama," John Nichols, a political writer for the Nation magazine, told Al Jazeera.

"And far from going to the issue stances and all the things we might have done, she said look, 'I'm here to take Barack Obama apart.'"

Feminist controversy

Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera's senior political commentator, said: "She sounded like a cheerleader ... she's taken women back decades.

"There was no vision and nothing specific about the reforms she would enact in Washington."

Larrey Anderson, a former state senator and conservative commentator, hailed it as a political breakthrough, saying: "I think women are trying to break through the glass ceiling [and] I think their chance is right here."

"[Palin] is the antithesis of someone who actually is advancing the cause of women, in fact, her goal is to take women's choices in life away from them"

Gloria Feldt, author and women's activist

"Feminism means being a player, means being part of humanity. And I think tonight, she showed real humanity."

Analysts had speculated that Palin's nomination was, to some degree, meant to gather support from Hillary Clinton supporters disenchanted by the vicious race she lost against Obama for the Democratic nomination.

Gloria Feldt, an author and women's activist, said that after Palin's convention speech, Clinton supporters would "in the end, end up supporting Obama".

Speaking to Al Jazeera on the floor of the convention, she said: "Sarah Palin's agenda ... did nothing to advance the cause of women whatsover, she's the antithesis of someone who actually is advancing the cause of women, in fact, her goal is to take women's choices in life away from them," Feldt said, referring to Palin's anti-abortion stance.

Criticisms 'divisive'

Other convention speakers, including a series of candidates who lost to McCain in the Republican nominating battle, also took aim at Obama and rallied around Palin on Wednesday, saying she had more executive experience than he did.

Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, told the convention: "The choice in this election comes down to substance over style. John McCain has been tested, Barack Obama has not."

Obama's campaign responded to the Republican jabs on Wednesday, calling Palin's speech the work of "George Bush's speech writer".

Bill Burton, Obama's spokesman, said: "[It] sounds exactly like the same divisive, partisan attacks we've heard from George Bush for the last eight years."

After Palin's speech, Republican delegates at the convention formally approved McCain as the party's nominee.

McCain is to accept his party's nomination for president on Thursday.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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