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Palin’s Rise Offers New Insight on GOP Running Mate

As new coverage surfaces on the little-known vice presidential candidate, the NewsHour's Judy Woodruff discusses her background, accomplishments and stance on critical issues with a delegate from Alaska.

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    Delegates at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul admit they were shocked at yesterday's news that vice presidential pick Sarah Palin's unmarried 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, but publicly at least they are rallying around the Alaska governor, the mother of five, whose youngest is just four months old.

    JOYCE SHIRLEY, Texas Republican delegate: We're going to elect Governor Palin. We're not going to elect her daughter. It's her qualifications to be vice president, is what matters.

    JOSEPH WOOD, Arkansas Republican delegate: Nobody here walks on water. And so what has happened in her family happens in most American families across the board.


    Yet the pregnancy news, along with a growing list of other new disclosures about Palin, have some asking if the governor was thoroughly vetted.

    GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), Alaska: I was just your average hockey mom in Alaska.


    John McCain's campaign insists she was. The spokeswoman said Senator McCain specifically knew about the daughter's pregnancy before he chose Palin as his running mate.

    NICOLLE WALLACE, McCain campaign spokesperson: The normal vetting process was underway. And obviously, this was disclosed by Governor Palin and her family. The thing that forced her hand — and that is very unfortunate — is that the fervor with which the Democratic-leaning blogs and a few in the mainstream media pursued this.


    This is a time when we take off our Republican hats and put on our American hats.


    Still, the story grabbed the convention's focus on a first day sharply abbreviated by Hurricane Gustav.

    Asked about the matter in Michigan yesterday, Democratic nominee Barack Obama said family issues have no place in the campaign.

    SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), Ill.: This shouldn't be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Governor Palin's performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president. And so I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories.


    So far, reporters and others have not backed off that story and other new items that have surfaced about Palin.

    Still under investigation is her attempt to engineer the firing of an Alaska state trooper embroiled in a messy divorce from her sister. Palin said yesterday she's hired a private lawyer to represent her in the probe.

    New questions have also been raised about a central claim made by Senator McCain when he chose her, that she's fought special interests and wasteful spending. Palin sought to highlight those same traits.


    And I championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. In fact, I told Congress — I told Congress, "Thanks, but no thanks," on that Bridge to Nowhere.


    Now, it's come to light that, as mayor of the tiny town of Wasilla, Alaska, Palin hired a Washington lobbying firm to win her town some $26 million in earmarks.