Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who is poised to become only the second woman ever nominated to run for vice president of the United States, assured delegates to the Republican National convention that she has the experience and credentials for the job. The highly anticipated speech was greeted with rousing applause from delegates who have expressed strong support for her, despite questions about her abilities and qualifications. VOA's Dan Robinson reports from St. Paul, Minnesota, where the convention winds up Thursday with a speech by Republican presidental nominee John McCain.
The Alaska governor was little known before Senator McCain announced less than a week ago that he had chosen her as his running mate, and, within days, revelations about her family and questions about decisions she made as governor intensified the focus on her convention speech. Palin had to win over those skeptical about her abilities, as she formally introduced herself to the nation, and judging by the applause she received, she succeeded among the Republicans present.
Recounting her life as a devoted mother, and her rise to mayor of a small Alaska town and now governor, Palin challenged those who question her experience to compare it to that of Democratic Presidential candidate, Barack Obama, who was a community organizer in the city of Chicago before he was elected to the state legislature and then to the U.S. Senate.
"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. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities," she said.
She also launched a direct attack on the Obama campaign's theme of change, as she addressed the choice Americans face when they go to the polls in November.
"Here's how I look at the choice Americans face in this election. In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change," she said.
Palin is only the second woman ever named to a major party ticket, and the first for Republicans. Geraldine Ferrarro was the Democratic candidate in 1984. Palin is a staunch social conservative, and as she put it, not a member of the permanent political establishment, who could boost Republican chances against Barack Obama.
Revelations in recent days about her unwed pregnant daughter, and an ethics investigation in her home state, have nearly dominated headlines, but Palin appeared undaunted as she outlined what she and McCain would do, if elected.
In her address, Palin spoke confidently on international issues, and said she would help fight to end U.S. Reliance on Middle Eastern oil.
"With Russia wanting to control a vital pipeline in the Caucasus, and to divide and intimidate our European allies by using energy as a weapon, we cannot leave ourselves at the mercy of foreign suppliers. To confront the threat that Iran might seek to cut off nearly a fifth of world energy supplies, or that terrorists might strike again at the Abqaiq facility in Saudi Arabia, or that Venezuela might shut off its oil deliveries, we Americans need to produce more of our own oil and gas."
Among the speakers at the convention Wednesday were well-known Republicans, who challenged McCain for the Republican nomination earlier in the campaign.
Describing the 2008 election as a "choice between substance and style," former New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani described McCain as an American war hero, tested time and again in crisis, and he offered this view of Senator Obama. "He's never had to lead people in a crisis. He is the least experienced candidate for President of the United States in the last 100 years. [This is] not a personal attack, [just] a statement of fact. Barack Obama has never led anything. Nothing. Nada. Nothing," he said.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney said a McCain-Palin victory in November would bring conservatism back to Washington. "We need change all right - change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington! We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington - throw out the big government liberals and elect John McCain and Sarah Palin."
Senator McCain arrived in St. Paul earlier in the day, preparing for his acceptance speech Thursday night, and made a surprise appearance on stage after Palin finished speaking to thunderous applause.