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McCain’s Running Mate Sarah Palin Makes GOP History

Convention attendees and a panel of historians offer perspective on the significance of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's historic nomination and the challenges on the campaign trail.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Well, Jim, as we look at the challenges John McCain faces tonight getting his story across, we're going to talk to two Republicans from two very different parts of the country.

    They are United States Sen. Olympia Snowe from the state of Maine and Trey Grayson, who is a secretary of state for the state of Kentucky.

    Thank you both very much for being with us.

    Senator Snowe, to you first. When John McCain talks about changing Washington, you know Washington very well. You've served there almost 30 years. What does he need to say? How big is the hurdle that he has to climb to get his message across about that?

    SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE (R), Maine: Well, you know, it's interesting, because it shouldn't be a high hurdle, given his experience in Washington and his predisposition in working across the political aisles, he's done consistently in challenging the political status quo each and every day, having made his mark in bipartisanship, which I think would resonate with voters across this country, most especially independents, whom we have to attract in order to win this election.

    In fact, Democrats and Republicans are going to have to look at ways to attracting independents. And John has had the experience, not just talking about it. He's actually — he's actually done it. And that's why Joe Lieberman was here to speak on his behalf.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Trey Grayson, from your perspective in the state of Kentucky, looking at Washington, John McCain has been there for 30 years. How does he get across the notion that, yes, I've been there, but I'm going to change things?

    TREY GRAYSON, Kentucky Secretary of State: I think what Senator Snowe talked a lot about, the fact that he actually has done things. He's worked across party lines.

    If you look at all the attempts over the last couple of years to bring a bipartisan consensus together, he's been right there either leading it or being part of it. So what he ought to do is point to those successes and say, "You know, put me charge, and maybe we can solve some more problems, too."

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Senator Snowe, Senator McCain obviously identified as the maverick in the Republican Party. Does that make it harder or easier for him to get things done?

  • SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE:

    I think it's going to make it easier, because I think everybody understands that, in order to change Washington, you really do have to change the political environment in order to affect change for America. There's no other way of doing it.

    And the fact that he has been a maverick in order to assert his positions on critical issues like climate change, for example, a very important issue, they were just discussing here this evening, and it's so important to this country.

    I mean, John has been there time and again. He's affected change not only in defense, national security, Gang of 14, when we had to avert, you know, a major crisis in the United States Senate on judicial appointments, patient liability for managed care reform, the list goes on. I've known him for 25 years.

    And he's been nothing but change for this country in trying to create solutions. He knows that's the only way to make it better for Americans.

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