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Biden, check. Palin, checkmate.

Sarah Palin would be an even better VP pick than Mitt Romney

I’ve already shown how Sarah Palin would be a smart pick by John McCain to be his running mate. In light of recent events, she’s looking like a smarter selection .

The announcement made early this morning by the Obama camp that Delaware Senator Joe Biden is Obama’s choice to share the Democrat presidential ticket with him sets the stage for McCain to name his own vice presidential nominee. The conventional wisdom seems to be that it will be former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Although I think Romney would be a strong selection, the Biden pick would make Gov. Palin an even stronger one.

Within three hours of news of the Biden selection being aired, Team McCain produced and released this hard-hitting ad with video clips of Biden dissing Obama’s inexperience and praising his old friend and Senate colleague, John McCain:

There’s no shortage of similar clips from the GOP primariy season depicting Romney attacking McCain and McCain returning fire. A Romney pick would guarantee that the Democrats would use it and effectively cancel out the impact of the McCain ad. But Palin wasn’t involved in that fight, so there’s no such ammunition for the Obama campaign to use against her. McCain’s ad could run from now through election day, and the Democrats would be denied the opportunity to reply in kind. Instead, Biden would be forced to explain his criticism of his own running mate.

One of Romney’s strongest assets is economics. He was very successful in the private sector and has won acclaim for turning the Winter Olympics in his home state of Utah around. But to most Americans today, “economics” is translated as “oil”. The price of gasoline at the pump and food at the grocery store is what’s on their minds. The financial markets and corporate arenas where Romney earned his creds might as well be on a distant planet. Sarah Palin knows all about oil. She’s an avid proponent of drilling in ANWR and makes a strong case for it.

But Palin is no stooge of Big Oil. She stood up to the oil companies in her state and pushed through a modest 2.5% increase on the state taxes they pay for their access to Alaska’s bountiful oil deposits. That raised the tax from 22.5% to 25%, an amount the companies can pay and still enjoy considerable profits. The oil companies and some of her fellow Republicans had fought against the bill, arguing that the extra 2.5% would would put a damper on future Alaskan oil exploration. That has not been the case. Conservatives don’t like tax-raising, but Palin justified the increase by pointing out that the previous 22.5% tax was passed in 2006 under suspicious circumstances. Several members of the legislature that set the amount of that tax were convicted or indicted on federal bribery charges related to the bill. Palin also explained that the ’06 tax did not perform as advertised, and she offered as evidence an $800 million shortfall in expected revenue. Whether you agree or disagree with Palin’s actions, you have to admit that the Democrats can’t paint her as being in the pocket of Big Oil.

Gov. Sarah has also pushed through her legislature a gas pipeline project which will bring a fresh supply and lower prices to those of us in the lower 48:

The legislature had been trying for 30 years to authorize something like this and, up until now, had blown it. Palin got it through. Getting it off the ground, the state says, will be the biggest construction project in U.S. history.

Palin considers the $26 billion project her biggest accomplishment as governor. “It was not easy,” she told IBD. “Alaska has been hoping and dreaming for a natural gas pipeline for decades. What it took was getting off the dime and creating a competitive market in Alaska.”

The 1,715-mile gas line would stretch from Alaska’s North Slope to Fairbanks and down to Alberta, Canada. Then it would take existing gas lines to Idaho. In 10 years, Palin says, the lower 48 states would receive 4.5 million cubic feet of natural gas a day. By 2030, according to Energy Department estimates, Alaska’s annual natgas production would quintuple to 2 trillion cubic feet.

In light of the inablity of the U.S. Congress to do anything about our energy problem, voters will be favorably impressed with this “can-do” governor and her determination to move the ball downfield on energy. While others talk the problem to death, Sarah Palin has been doing plenty about it.

A McCain-Palin ticket would offer hope to Americans angry over our energy dependence on foreign – and often hostile – sources. It would stand in stark contrast to Obama and Biden, both of whom opposed increased domestic drilling. McCain is for drilling offshore, but has yet to be convinced to embrace drilling in ANWR. Sarah Palin is perhaps the only person who could convince him. McCain-Palin could even adopt a variation on the “Energy for Alaska” theme used by Sarah in her contest for Alaska’s governorship – “Energy for America.” It’s a good one, and it should resonate with American voters who have been strapped for cash by high pump prices, as well as those concerned about America’s energy security. Romney, as good as he is on economic matters, just can’t relate to American voters on energy issues the way Palin can.

Biden is going to be Obama’s attack dog, a role vice presidential picks are usually given so that the presidential candidate’s hands don’t have to be washed. Can Sarah Palin stand up to the crusty old Senator in a fight? It would be a mistake to write her off. Alaska is a tough place, and it demands much of those who choose to live there. Palin has taken on her own party by fighting corruption and using the line item veto to cut the budget, angering Democrats and entrenched Republicans alike. In a piece for the Weekly Standard last year, Fred Barnes wrote:

In the roughly three years since she quit as the state’s chief regulator of the oil industry, Palin has crushed the Republican hierarchy (virtually all male) and nearly every other foe or critic. Political analysts in Alaska refer to the “body count” of Palin’s rivals. “The landscape is littered with the bodies of those who crossed Sarah,” says pollster Dave Dittman, who worked for her gubernatorial campaign.

-snip-

Gov. Palin grew up in Wasilla, where as star of her high school basketball team she got the nickname “Sarah Barracuda” for her fierce competitiveness. She led her underdog team to the state basketball championship. Palin also won the Miss Wasilla beauty contest, in which she was named Miss Congeniality, and went on to compete in the Miss Alaska pageant.

Don’t let that pretty face fool you. She’s tough. I’ll wager that because she was tough enough to take on Alaska’s corrupt pols, she should have no problem with Biden in the VP debate or with bringing the elite Obama down a peg or two.

Palin has another appeal that Mitt Romney just can’t match, and it’s through no fault of his. It’s a matter of gender. Recent polling shows a problem for Obama:

Perhaps the biggest factor keeping the presidential race close has been Obama’s inability to close the deal with some of Hillary Clinton’s supporters. According to the poll, 52 percent of them say they will vote for Obama, but 21 percent are backing McCain, with an additional 27 percent who are undecided or want to vote for someone else.

What’s more, those who backed Clinton in the primaries — but aren’t supporting Obama right now — tend to view McCain in a better light than Obama and have more confidence in McCain’s ability to be commander-in-chief.

Obama’s decision to choose Biden and stiff Hillary has her supporters even angrier right now. By selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate, McCain would show them that he, unlike Obama, doesn’t take women’s votes for granted.

The Democrats are touting Joe Biden’s blue collar roots, which they will exploit to try to continue to define McCain as so out of touch with the average American that “he doesn’t even know how many houses he owns” – nevermind that all members of the Senate are rich, and Biden’s compound is not your average American crib. They will tell us how he had to take second and third mortgages on his house to send his kids to college, and they will have many more stories of Biden as the average Joe.

If McCain chooses him, Romney will be portrayed by the Dems, rightly or wrongly, as a zillionaire who’s out of touch with average Americans. They can’t define Palin that way. Her parents were school teachers. Her husband Todd actually worked for a living in a blue-collar production job for BP on the North Slope for 20 years. And he’s a commercial fisherman in the summer. Todd is also something of an Alaska sports legend, having won the gruelling 2,000-mile Iron Dog snowmobile race four times. Oh, and he raises the kids while mom is working as Alaska’s CEO. The couple’s youngest child has Down’s Syndrome, a condition the doctors made them aware of before its birth. Yet they never even considered abortion, and they say the baby is “a blessing.” The story marks a stunning contrast to the pro-abortion positions of Obama and Biden. Palin is also a lifetime member of the NRA, an organization which has given Biden an F-rating. He even boasted that he wrote the language contained in the assault weapons bill. Romney’s record on gun control is shaky, while Palin’s is rock solid. America’a 80 million gun owners will love her.

The Palin family is a great story waiting to be told to the lower 48 if McCain is wise enough to pick Sarah. Even the drive-by media will be fascinated by it and eager to tell it. As good as Mitt Romney is as a vice-presidential choice, Palin is even better.

-JP

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