By Mickey Winfield: PNT staff writer
Interest in Republican nominee for vice president, Sarah Palin, has grown since her nomination in August — and women in Roosevelt County also have their opinions about the Alaska governor, just weeks before election day.
Palin is the second woman to be a major party’s vice presidential nominee, and the first to do so as a Republican. Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro was selected by Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale in advance of the 1984 election against Ronald Reagan and George Bush.
Portales city manager Debi Lee, a Republican, views Palin’s selection as positive for women in general and credits the McCain campaign for the choice.
“I applaud McCain. I think he was smart for recognizing what he needed to balance (the ticket),” Lee said. “What she brings to the table is her sound leadership, but she hasn’t put politics as the most important thing (in her life.)”
But as a woman in city government, Lee also knows there are challenges unique to women seeking office.
“It’s more difficult to be in a position of power and leadership as a female than it is as a man,” Lee said. “She’s going to have to work harder; she’s going to have to be stronger (to compete on the national level.)”
Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce Director Sharon King, a Democrat, agrees that Palin’s selection is a significant development, but King believes another woman’s hard-fought primary bid was more significant for the future of women at the top level of government.
“I guess I look at this a little differently,” King said. “I think what Hillary Clinton did was actually more notable than what Sarah Palin has done.”
Even though Portales Democrat Geni Flores disagrees with Palin on several issues, she does see the benefit of having a woman on a national ticket.
“Anytime that a woman is nominated to a top office — that is a step forward for women in politics,” Flores said. “However, the choice of woman, in this particular case, I think is unfortunate.”
Flores believes the McCain campaign selected the former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, to try to woo women voters after Democratic nominee Barack Obama declined to nominate Hillary Clinton.
“I do think that Sarah Palin was chosen just because Hillary was not (Obama’s choice) for vice president, and I think it was a tactic to try to get votes away from the Obama campaign,” Flores said.
Lee agrees that Palin was picked — in part — due to Obama’s dismissal of Clinton.
“I think (McCain) trumped Obama,” Lee explained.
Portales resident and registered Democrat Linda Uttaro, believes Palin lacks the experience necessary to be president if needed.
“I would have more respect for the Republican Party if they had found a woman who was strong and had been showing her strength, instead of pulling a name out of a hat.”
“Simply because she has balanced her career with a lot of things, including her service on the local level as a mayor and then as governor on the state level and then now onto the national level.”
Even though Flores takes issue with several of Palin’s political postures, she is bothered by how some are treating the Alaska governor.
“As far as the question as to whether she can take care of her children and be vice president at the same time — those are not fair charges,” Flores said. “We don’t ask men if they can take care of their family at the same time that they run for office.”
“I find it insulting that they’re asking the question about how can she have five children and be a vice president,” King said. “Would they ever ask a man that question? I don’t think so. I don’t think that should even be an issue. That’s between herself and her husband.”
“Times are changing,” Lee said. “These two ladies (Clinton and Palin) have definitely laid the groundwork to make it easier for other women who want to step up into that position of leadership and service.”