NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

September 2, 2008

Republican convention off to slow start

NEWBURYPORT — Bruce Brown has been a Republican his whole life, but his belief in the party strengthened this election as Republican presidential hopeful John McCain chose running mate Sarah Palin.

Local Republicans are rejoicing in the choice, calling it another example of how McCain's "independent thinking" will bring needed change to Washington.

"I've been a lifelong Republican," said Brown, chairman of the Seabrook Republican Committee. "A lot of women should be pleased Palin is on the ticket. I think McCain has a chance. It will be close, but I think we can win it."

As the 39th Republican National Convention got off to a rocky start on Monday while Hurricane Gustav pounded the Gulf Coast states, yesterday Republicans converged on St. Paul, Minn., ready to get the RNC back on track and officially nominate McCain for president.

In light of Gustav, McCain was absent on Monday as he helped ship relief packages to those affected. President Bush also canceled his speech, rescheduling to last night.

But with the recent announcement of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate, the disclosure that Palin's 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, riots and the rescheduling of events earlier in the week due to Gustav, the RNC has so far had its share of distractions.

The news of Palin's daughter was followed by an announcement that a private lawyer for Palin has been hired to represent her in an investigation into her dismissing Alaska's public safety commissioner. Critics have maintained that she ordered the firing after the commissioner refused to fire an officer who had divorced Palin's sister.

For Northern Essex Community College assistant professor of history Steve Russell, the choice was a risk at best.

"I think McCain is doing pretty well considering Bush is not popular. He conveys he knows what he is doing and can take the reins," Russell said. "But I think Palin is an incredibe risk. I don't see how it could possibly help him."

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