Palin mocks Obama, accepts GOP support
ST. PAUL -- Sarah Palin says she is a small-town hockey mom, but Wednesday night introduced herself to the country as the Republican Party's first woman vice presidential candidate.
The 44-year-old Alaska governor showed her fiery side in a St. Paul convention hall that was alive like it had not been up to then during the Republican National Convention.
Palin emphasized her small-town roots, something heard little about from others at either major party's convention.
She said those in towns like hers are honest and sincere.
"They are the ones who do some of the hardest work in America -- who grow our food, run our factories and fight our wars," she said.
Before launching her political career, she said, "I was just your average hockey mom, and signed up for the PTA because I wanted to make my kids' public education better."
She became a city council member, then mayor, experience Democrats say is not enough for a vice president.
"And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves." Palin said. "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities."
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was a community organizer before going to the U.S. Senate.
Palin and other speakers attacked Obama Wednesday time after time, following the convention's first two nights that were subdued in light of Hurricane Gustav's arrival at the Gulf Coast.
Wednesday night was anything but subdued. Delegates -- fired up by former presidential contenders Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani - greeted Palin as a rock star, rattling the Excel Energy Center's rafters much like hockey fans do during Minnesota Wild hockey games in that arena.
Giuliani promised that Palin and McCain will shake up Washington.
"This is a woman who has no fear," the former New York City mayor said. "This is a woman who stands up for what is right."
The governor indicated that she would be a tough vice president.
"They say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull -- lipstick," she said in ad-libbed remarks.
Palin delivered her speech in front of 20,000 convention attendees and a nationwide television audience. She is the GOP's first woman vice presidential candidate and the second ever for a major party.
She emphasized her support of drilling for more oil and building pipelines to deliver that oil to chants of "drill baby, drill."
She also repeated McCain's proposal to increase nuclear -- and coal-based electrical production.
Republicans brushed aside criticism that time as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska -- population less than 9,000 -- does not qualify her to be vice president.
"When you denigrate one a mayor in one small town, you basically denigrate the mayors in all small towns," former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge told the Minnesota convention delegation.
That comment struck Minnesota alternate delegate Arles Kumpula of New York Mills.
"Small-town mayors have a lot of decisions to make, and they have to be made now," Kumpula said.
Being a mayor, even of a small town, requires more skills and judgment than Palin's critics have credit her with, Richard Koch said.
Koch, an alternate delegate from Jackson in far southwestern Minnesota, said Palin clearly has executive experience. He noted that she has led the Alaska National Guard as governor and handled budgets when she was mayor.