Campaign 2008: Local voters weigh in on veep candidates |

Campaign 2008: Local voters weigh in on veep candidates

With the Republican Party’s plans for their convention scaled back by the arrival of a major hurricane, the nation might have to wait a little while for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s coming-out party.

Palin, who isn’t known much outside of the Last Frontier in political circles, has caused the biggest stir in the vice presidential sweepstakes as Arizona Sen. John McCain’s running mate.

Vice presidential candidates Palin and Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, chosen as Democratic nominee Barack Obama’s No. 2, have drawn wide responses in an unscientific survey conducted on Labor Day in Grass Valley.

Paul Barbieri, 33, Grass Valley:

“I think they’re both very interesting picks,” said Barbieri, relaxing with friends in Minnie Park. “I think the choice of a female running mate was a wise choice for McCain. I think it will pull some voters in their direction.”

Palin is largely an unknown outside of Alaska. Prior to winning in a landslide election against former Gov. Tony Knowles, Palin, 44, was mayor of Wasila, a suburb of 7,000 people south of Anchorage. She is married to an oilfield worker and has five children, the youngest of whom has Down syndrome.

Barbara Lowell, 42, Grass Valley:

Lowell said she was touched by the fact that Biden, 65, a Pennsylvania native who moved to Delaware when he was 10 years old, appeared with his family at the Democratic convention. She was also touched by his story ” his first wife and infant daughter were killed in a car accident just after Biden was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972.

“He’s been through hardship just like the rest of us, and he’s committed to his family,” she said. “That really means something.”

Lowell said she thought McCain’s pick of Palin was “interesting” considering the nation’s energy worries.

Eric Sturgeon, 34, Nevada City:

Sturgeon says he worries that Palin, who has been a governor for less than two years, would be so close to the presidency should McCain, who turned 72 on Friday, no longer be able to serve. Should he win, McCain would be the nation’s oldest elected president in his first term.

“If something were to happen, she has no experience,” Sturgeon said.

Teresa Noury, 48, Grass Valley:

Noury spent Labor Day afternoon at Bunce’s in downtown Grass Valley. She said she’s planning to vote for McCain.

“I don’t know much about (the vice presidential candidates),” she said. But, she said, “I just like (Palin). She seems like a cool person.”

Dee Giles, 72, Grass Valley:

Giles runs the bar at Bunce’s. He chose to sport a patriotic theme on Labor Day, dressed in a shirt resembling the American flag.

“Obama picked somebody for experience to help him with foreign relations,” he said. “McCain did a shocker to get some votes.” Biden has twice served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, bolstering a weakness some have said Obama has with foreign-policy credentials.

Of Palin, Giles said: “She’s a conservative rebel that just might help him. I think (Palin and Biden) are both good political choices, each for a different reason.”

Asked who he would vote for, Giles paused.

“I’m still mulling that over.”

Mary Toscani, 57, Grass Valley:

Toscani met a friend for a job interview on Monday. She said she, too, has concerns about Palin’s experience ” and her priorities.

“If McCain dies, we’re stuck with this woman who has no experience,” she said. “I think McCain’s trying to get the women’s vote and it’s a question mark in my mind.”

She said Biden was a good pick. “I like that he’s a straight shooter.”

Jenny Travers, 58, North Columbia:

“I questioned McCain’s choice, also, but I’m a little concerned it’s still about Big Oil,” she said. “I’m concerned it’s more of the same without solving our energy problems.”

Palin might have to juggle her priorities should McCain take office, Travers said.

“She has a lot of personal responsibilities,” Travers said. “I’m wondering how torn she’ll be.”

Travers’ money, at this point, seems to be on the Obama-Biden ticket.

“I thought they were very believable, that it wasn’t the old-boy network,” Travers said of the Democratic ticket. “I think Biden was a good choice. He has the experience.”

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