What Minnesota delegates want to hear from Palin's speech

Palin and family members
Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, right, stands with her husband Todd, her daughter Bristol and Bristol's boyfriend Levi Johnston, left, as they await the arrival of Republican presidential candidate John McCain at the airport in Minneapolis Wednesday.

Much of the conversation among the Minnesota delegates today focused on Sarah Palin and the speech she's scheduled to deliver in prime time.

Tom Conlon of St. Paul was working on a list of the topics he wants to hear from Palin.

"I think hearing a conservative message, pro-life, independence. And a good energy policy, that it's a national security issue as well. It's just an economic one for many of us, and she can speak with authority on that," said Conlon. "I think those will be some of the themes I hope to hear, as well as an outreach to everyday families and women."

Palin and McCain
Republican presidential candidate John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin talk as he arrives on the tarmac at the airport in Minneapolis Wednesday.

Conlon says Palin's addition to the GOP ticket has energized Republicans, especially conservatives like him.

But the Alaska governor is still largely unknown in Minnesota and throughout the country. Since being introduced as John McCain's running mate five days ago, Palin has announced that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. There have also been news stories that Palin sought pork-barrel projects for her city and state, and questions are being raised about Palin's dismissal of a state public safety commissioner.

Katie Nadeau, a delegate from Rogers, says Palin has to define herself.

"I would like her give us a better picture of who she is. Right now we're having the media define that for us," said Nadeau. "To have her actually let us know know first hand is really important to the delegates, and to the rest of the world at this point."

Marty Seifert
Minnesota House Republican leader Marty Seifert says Sarah Palin's experience as a hunter, snowmobiler and hockey mom will help the GOP ticket in Minnesota.
MPR Photo/Tim Pugmire

Some delegates say they already know all they need to know about Palin. Diana Bratlie of Lakeville used to live in Alaska, and her friends there rave about their governor. Bratlie says the rest of the country will be impressed with McCain's running mate.

"She absolutely sticks to her convictions. She absolutely does, and she doesn't play favorites," said Bratlie. "She's a great advocate for her state, and I'm sure she'll be a wonderful advocate for the U.S. I just think she's a golden pick, just golden."

McCain supporters are also hoping Palin's outdoorsy image will play well with many voters.

Marty Seifert, the Republican minority leader in the Minnesota House, says Palin's experience as a hunter, snowmobiler and hockey mom will help the GOP ticket in Minnesota.

"I could see her going to a rally in Duluth, and having a lot of union members showing up who hunt and fish and saying, 'This is my gal,'" said Seifert.

Ron Carey
Minnesota state Republican Party chairman Ron Carey says vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has supercharged Minnesota activists. He expects having her on the ticket will help other Republican candidates in Minnesota.
MPR Photo/Mark Zdechlik

Seifert says Palin's convention speech should show her human side, as well as her experience as a mayor and governor.

"I think she's got to say, 'I'm ready to lead, I'm ready for the position,'" said Seifert. "I don't think she needs to address the whole family issues that have been brought up. I think if she wants to she can. Her husband having a DWI from 23 years ago, before they were even married when he was 22 or something, I don't think she needs to get into that kind of stuff."

The success of Palin's speech will be better measured outside of the Xcel Energy Center.

Inside the convention hall, delegates predict nearly uniform enthusiasm and support for the vice presidential nominee.

Mike Vekich of St. Louis Park, a convention alternate, says Palin has to speak to the American people, not just the party faithful.

"This will be the biggest speech of her career. The lights are focused on her, and she's really going to have to sell the American public," said Vekich. "She's sold me, but that's for obvious reasons. But for the American public, I think it's going to be extremely important."

Prior to Palin's much anticipated speech, delegates will hear from three former GOP presidential candidates -- Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.

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