[Original post dated November 3, 2008 - Updated below]
It was one of McCain's trademark "Erratic Maverick" moves, meant to distinguish McCain as a candidate who 'thought outside the box' and didn't follow established political paths like choosing a qualified Vice-Presidential running mate. Ultimately it cost him the election.
A new national poll suggests Sarah Palin may be hurting Republican presidential nominee John McCain more than she's helping him.
Fifty-seven percent of likely voters say Sarah Palin does not have the personal qualities a president should have.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Sunday indicates McCain's running mate is growing less popular among voters and may be costing him a few crucial percentage points in the race for the White House.
The most important decision John McCain had to make in his bid for the Presidency was the selection of a qualified running mate. There were several individuals who could have been chosen who would have left the nation in capable hands if McCain were elected and then unable to complete his term.
But John McCain put qualifications and abilities aside, and cynically chose Palin - hoping to shore up his socially conservative base while at the same time expecting to pick up disenfranchised Clinton supporters.
At first the campaign kept the wraps on Palin, not allowing interviews - and we subsequently learned they were spending $150,000 those first few days on a lavish and extravagant wardrobe in an attempt to makeover Palin's rough, small town presence. Eventually the highest paid campaign consultants on the McCain/Palin team would be $10,000 a week make-up artists.
And after weeks of coaching Sarah Palin on the issues the results can be seen in the video above. Imagine how she'd have done on those questions before she'd been extensively coached.
She wasn't qualified when she was chosen, and spending weeks drilling her on the issues didn't help her get past the most basic of questions.
Fifty-seven percent of likely voters questioned in the poll said Palin does not have the personal qualities a president should have. That's up 8 points since September.
Fifty-three percent say she does not agree with them on important issues. That's also higher than September.
"Just after the GOP convention in early September, 53 percent said they would vote for Palin over Joe Biden if there were a separate vote for vice president. Now, Biden would beat Palin by 12 points if the running mates were chosen in a separate vote," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
And what if voters were allowed to vote for president separately?
"It would be a 4-point edge for Barack Obama, 52 percent to 48 percent. Since the McCain-Palin ticket is currently getting 46 percent in a match-up against the Obama-Biden ticket, it looks like Palin's presence on the GOP ballot is taking 2 percentage points away from McCain. In a close race, that might represent the margin of victory," Holland said.
The most important decision John McCain had to make in the last 18 months -- and the decision that would have a major impact on the nation for his entire four-year term -- and he blew it.
McCain would go on to make more blunders which revealed his "Erratic Maverick" style in a crisis. As the economic meltdown emerged McCain declared "the fundamentals of the economy are strong" -- only to revise that assessment hours later to declare the nation in "the worst economic crisis since World War II."
With the resulting drop in the polls revealed by McCain's stunning miscalculations producing a drag on his chances for election McCain decided to pull a campaign "stunt," declaring he would "suspend his campaign and skip the upcoming debate with Obama" in order to go to Washington and work on a solution.
The nation watched in horror as the stock market crashed and John McCain accomplished nothing.
Clueless on the economy, McCain's knee-jerk, stunt-filled campaign revealed in the last two months the stark reality -- McCain is unable to lead the nation in a time of crisis.
And this 72 year-old multiple melanoma survivor, whose instability under pressure is underscored by the fact that he attempted suicide twice while undergoing his most severe crisis as a POW, chose an unqualified 'pit bull with lipstick' from Wasilla, Alaska as his running mate -- because he thought she'd help him win the votes of Clinton Democrats.
Ultimately it was that miscalculation -- in the most important decision he made in the entire campaign -- that cost him the election.
Bumped and Updated November 5, 2008:
In the comment thread Darren asks: "You're seriously telling me that McCain was going to coast to a win in a year..."
Who said coast?
He could have squeaked out a victory if he'd had a qualified candidate at this side, like Mitt Romney for example.
You can't just weigh (or in your case ignore) the enormous downside pull from Caribou Barbie - you have to weigh the positives a qualified VP running mate would have added to McCain's chances.
McCain failed on the economy - and Palin was zero help in that regard - Romney would have been a tremendous asset in her place, and McCain wouldn't have had to pull stunts like "Suspending his campaign" merely because Caribou Barbie couldn't be trusted.
Side note: If McCain couldn't leave Barbie "in charge" of the campaign - why would we want her in charge of the country?
You're knee-jerking without thinking it through -- just like McCain, Darren. If any of the qualified VPs were there McCain could have pulled off this election, yes.
But not only did Palin push away moderates and independents, McCain's decision magnified his ineptitude and also turned the conservative elite against McCain as well.
Yes, Palin shored up the base, and drove away factions outside the base. Ultimately, the base would have showed up and voted even with Romney - but McCain wasn't smart enough to make that happen, so he erratically knee-jerked what turned out to be his biggest mistake.
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