Following U.S. Presidential candidate John McCain's announcement that he had selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate on Friday, the National Jewish Democratic Council issued a statement saying that McCain's judgment appears "lacking."
"Today, Senator John McCain made his first critical decision with his selection of his vice Presidential running mate. In Governor Sarah Palin McCain chooses a running mate with zero foreign policy experience and a brewing scandal which is being investigated by the Alaska state legislature," said the group's Executive Director Ira N. Forman in a statement on Saturday.
Comparing the newly named vice presidential nominee to her Democratic counterpart Senator Joe Biden, the statement went on to say "the contrast with Joe Biden could not be starker and more unfavorable for the soon to be Republican nominee."
"For a party which claims it is trying to reach out to the Jewish community, McCain's pick is particularly strange," Forman continued. "Prior to today's selection, Palin apparently has never spoken publicly about Israel. Moreover, on a broad range of issues ? most strikingly on the issue of women's reproductive freedom ? she is totally out of step with Jewish public opinion. The gulf between Palin's public policy positions and the American Jewish community is best illustrated by the fact that the Christian Coalition of America was one of the strongest advocates of her selection."
In contrast, the Republican Jewish Coalition issued a very different response to McCain's running mate selection, saying that the choice demonstrated his good judgment and commitment to challenging politics-as-usual.
"As governor of Alaska, Palin has enjoyed a strong working relationship with Alaska's Jewish community. She has demonstrated sensitivity to the concerns of the community and has been accessible and responsive," said Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks.
"Palin has a proven track record of experienced and principled leadership. Palin has been a leader on the critical issue of energy independence and lessening our need to buy oil from nations not sharing American and Israel's foreign policy," the statement went on to say.
"Palin is anything but the typical Washington pick. A former commercial fisherman and mother of five children, Palin is an exciting and vibrant leader. She will bring a unique perspective to the presidential campaign. Her frontier spirit and triumph over adversity will benefit John McCain and the entire Republican ticket," Brooks added.
Earlier Friday, McCain tapped the little-known Alaska Governor to be his vice presidential running mate in a startling selection days before the start of the Republican National Convention.
Two senior campaign officials disclosed McCain's decision a few hours before the Republican presidential nominee-to-be and his newly-minted running mate appeared at a rally in swing-state Ohio.
Palin is a self-styled political reformer who has been governor of her state less than two years.
Palin's selection shocked numerous Republican officials. At its basis, the decision apparently stems from a bid to draw the votes of Hillary Clinton supporters away from Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
In making his pick, McCain passed over several more prominent prospects who had figured in speculation for months - Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge among them.
At 44, Palin is a generation younger that Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, who is Obama's running mate on the Democratic ticket.
She is three years Obama's junior, as well - and McCain has made much in recent weeks of Obama's relative lack of experience in foreign policy and defense matters.
Palin flew overnight to an airport in Ohio near Dayton, and even as she awaited her formal introduction, some aides said they had believed she was at home in Alaska.
She is a former mayor of Wasilla who became governor of her state in December, 2006 after ousting a governor of her own party in a primary and then dispatching a former governor in the general election.
More recently, she has come under the scrutiny of an investigation by the Republican-controlled legislature into the possibility that she ordered the dismissal of Alaska's public safety commissioner because he would not fire her former brother-in-law as a state trooper.
On September 11, 2007, the Palins' eighteen-year-old son Track, eldest of her five children, joined the U.S. army and will be deployed to Iraq next month.
Sarah Paulin hunts, eats moose hamburger, ice fishes, rides snowmobiles, and owns a float plane. She holds a lifetime membership with the National Rifle Association. She admits that she used marijuana when it was legal in Alaska, but says that she did not like it.
In response to McCain's selection, Obama's campaign spokesman Bill Burton said Friday that "today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency. Governor Palin shares John McCain's commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush's failed economic policies - that's not the change we need, it's just more of the same."
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