Will Palin Meet the Press? Not Really.
PHILADELPHIA — Now that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is in the national spotlight, speculation about how she will hold up to the intense media scrutiny is rampant. On an otherwise lazy holiday weekend, a slew of revelations about Sen. John McCain’s running mate surfaced, suggesting the McCain campaign’s self-styled intensive vetting process may not have been so stringent after all. Politico’s Michael Calderone examines Palin’s relationship with the Alaskan media for indications of how she will perform on the national stage:
Bob Tkacz, a freelance reporter who’s covered the legislature and seafood industry since 1990, described Palin as willing to answer a couple questions while dropping her daughter, Piper, off at the bus stop, a stone’s throw from both the governor’s mansion and Capitol building.
“She’s very accessible,” said Tkacz. “I’m not sure that’s the same as open.”
Tkacz described her style in news conference to that of a PTA meeting, adding that Palin keeps to the script at most times. Another reporter described her as often having staffers nearby during such conferences to field questions, too…
Dermot Cole, a columnist and editorial board member of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, said that Palin has met with the paper’s editors several times, but has generally avoided meetings that involve deep discussion of policy and issues.
“She is the most reluctant of all the governors we’ve had to participate,” said Cole, who’s spent three decades at the paper. Therefore, Cole added, “I think it’s unproven how she’s going to handle this intense scrutiny.”
Calderone also quotes Judith Erickson, wife of the editor-at-large of the Alaska Oil and Legislative Report, who indicates Palin is likely to deflect questions for which she is unprepared:
Of course, it may be more than a little naive to assume that Palin will spend much time talking to the press. We’ve written extensively about the lack of access the McCain campaign has given the national media recently — McCain has not held a press conference in nearly three weeks. In that time, the only questions he has answered have been in one-on-one interviews, mostly with local media.
I’ve been on the road with McCain the entire time since he announced Palin as his running mate, and I have yet to be within a couple hundred feet of her. The only time I’ve seen her face has been on television or on the Jumbo-trons at the rally in Dayton, Ohio, where McCain made the announcement. Palin also has yet to take a question from any reporter since her selection, local or national. Perhaps with good reason.
The McCain campaign is clearly uncomfortable allowing even the presumed GOP nominee — a seasoned politician who built his career and his reputation on “straight talk” with the press — to face the media. They’re probably not too keen on putting Palin out there, without a net, in front of reporters eager to test her qualifications for the nation’s second-highest office. One fumbled answer to a hardball question on, say, foreign policy — which, by the way, any other vice presidential candidate would be expected to answer — could prove devastating when played over and over on cable news channels, let alone a series of them. I expect Palin’s role in the campaign will be to appear at rallies, mostly in battleground states, and to interact with the press as little as possible — just like her running mate.