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Palin steps up the the plate -

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Palin steps up the the plate

The World Today - Thursday, 4 September , 2008 12:26:00

Reporter: Michael Rowland

ELEANOR HALL: Let's go now to the Republican National Convention in St Paul Minnesota where
Republican vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, the real one, has been delivering her speech.

It's the first public appearance by Governor Palin since it was revealed that her 17-year-old
daughter was pregnant. It's been described as the most important speech of her short public career.

Watching it from the convention floor is our North America correspondent, Michael Rowland.

Michael, how is Sarah Palin selling herself in this speech?

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Well Eleanor, she's really come out swinging. She's been in virtual seclusion ever
since that news about her family broke, but it's been, to date, she is still speaking, a very
confident, poised performance by the relatively youthful Governor of Alaska. She's talking up her
small town roots. She's talking up her experience as Alaska's Governor. She's speaking about the
executive experience she got as well being mayor of a small Alaskan town.

And she's also had a direct swipe at the critics, particularly what she describes as the Washington
elite, saying that she's not going to Washington to win the affections of journalists and the media
elite. As she puts it, she's going to serve the American people.

Let's hear a bit of what Sarah Palin had to say:

SARAH PALIN: Mr Chairman, delegates and fellow citizens, I will be honoured to accept your
nomination for vice-president of the United States.

(sound of applause and cheering)

I accept the call to help our nominee for president to serve and defend America and I accept the
challenge of a tough fight in this election against confident opponents at a crucial hour for our
country. And I accept the privilege of serving with a man who has come through much harder missions
and met far graver challenges and knows how tough fights are won - the next president of the United
States, John S McCain.

(sound of applause and cheering.)

ELEANOR HALL: That's Governor Sarah Palin giving her speech there at the Republican National

There's been a lot of controversy, Michael, surrounding this nomination. How carefully would
Republican strategists have vetted this speech?

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Oh, they would have vetted it word for word. In fact, they would have had the bulk
of this speech written, certainly the key themes of it, even before Sarah Palin was picked by John
McCain last week.

They're leaving nothing to chance, given the controversy that's swirling around this woman. Sarah
Palin may have had a bit of input, particularly talking about her background, but the key themes
and I'd say especially that very, very strong counter-attack against the critics who have been
assailing Sarah Palin over her family life and over her perceived lack of experience, all of that
would have come directly from the John McCain campaign team.

ELEANOR HALL: Now Michael, she's likely, we've been hearing, to be welcomed by the Republican
Party's Christian conservatives, but we heard just earlier in the program that she was slammed by
Republican commentators including Peggy Noonan, they were caught off mike saying that she's a
cynical choice as running mate.

Are you getting a sense of division among Republicans there at the convention?

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Well, if there is division here Eleanor, people are putting on a, certainly
circling the wagons and putting on a brave face, at least for the media. I spent a fair bit of time
speaking to delegates over the course of today and also to a man and a woman they were quite happy
to embrace Sarah Palin, talking about how she was the best choice John McCain could have made.

And even some of the more socially conservative delegates from the deep southern states like
Alabama and Tennessee that I spoke to were willing, even they were willing to overlook the
so-called pregnancy problem. They say well it simply shows that Sarah Palin's daughter is living up
to her mother's pro-life stance in not aborting the child and going ahead with the pregnancy.

So in public terms at least, there is obviously a bit of dissention behind the scenes because that
Peggy Noonan comment was quite spectacular, given that on this very day she has written a glowing
article in the Wall Street Journal talking up Sarah Palin's candidacy and experience.

But at least among the delegates, publicly, there is no sign of dissention.

ELEANOR HALL: And I understand that some former presidential candidates have been singing her
praises there today?

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Yes, we've had a few high profile warm-up acts here including the former governor
of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, a former presidential candidate as you say. He has told delegates
that both John McCain and Sarah Palin would help preserve American values.

We've had other speakers including the former Hewlett Packard, the computer company's chief
executive turned McCain advisor Carly Fiorina who has talked about Sarah Palin being singled out
purely because of her sex.

But it was the former Arkansas governor and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee who Eleanor
confronted the elephant in the room, that was the revelation that Sarah Palin's 17-year-old
daughter was pregnant.

Here is what Mike Huckabee said about the controversy of the last few days:

MIKE HUCKABEE: I want to begin by doing something a little unusual. I'd like to thank the elite
media for doing something that, quite frankly, I wasn't sure could be done and that's unifying the
Republican Party, and all of America in support of Senator McCain and Governor Palin.

(sound of cheering and applause)

The reporting of the past few days have proven tackier than a costume change at Madonna concert.

(sound of laughter and applause)

ELEANOR HALL: And that's Mike Huckabee there, speaking at the Republican National Convention where
Sarah Palin has been giving her speech.