In the pivotal moment of the Republican National Convention and Sarah Palin’s career, the hockey mom proved that she could throw a punch.
Palin, 44, has been ripped by Democrats for a lack of experience as a small-town mayor and the first-term governor of the nation’s third-least-populous state. She and her family have also been subjected to a scouring by the national media and been the subject of sneering commentary.
On Wednesday night, Palin had an answer to her detractors, especially in the media.
“Here’s a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion — I’m going to Washington to serve the people of the country,” Palin said in a speech on the night that the Xcel Center finally came to life.
Ecstatic delegates greeted Palin’s arrival on the stage with thunderous applause and chants of her name. Across the hall, delegates waved homemade signs reading “Palin Power.”
In her speech, Palin described herself as a “hockey mom” who shuttled her children to and from the rink until she decided to join the PTA because she was concerned about their educations. The mother of five cast her political advances from that point as the result of discovering new concerns at new levels, not ambition.
But it was when she contrasted her own record to that of Barack Obama and his own much-maligned resume that Palin sent the crowd into a full frenzy.
“I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities,” Palin said. “I might add that in small towns, we don’t quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren’t listening.”
Palin used some of the speech to reintroduce listeners to her family that has garnered so much attention — including 17-year-old daughter Bristol, whose pregnancy was announced by the campaign Monday.
Bristol Palin sat hand in hand with Levi Johnston, her 18-year-old fiancée. When the girl was introduced, the crowed swelled with applause.
“Our family has the same ups and downs as any other … the same challenges and the same joys,” Palin said in an oblique reference to the much-publicized pregnancy. “Sometimes even the greatest joys bring challenge.”
Palin outlined her career of reform in Alaska by taking on “the special interests, the lobbyists, big oil companies and the good-ol’ boys network” and promised to bring the same attitude to Washington.
“Sudden and relentless reform never sits well with entrenched interests and power brokers. That’s why true reform is so hard to achieve. But with the support of the citizens of Alaska, we shook things up,” Palin said. “And in short order we put the government of our state back on the side of the people.”
The policy theme of her speech was on energy independence and how domestic reserves in places like Alaska can help achieve it.
“With Russia wanting to control a vital pipeline in the Caucasus, and to divide and intimidate our European allies by using energy as a weapon, we cannot leave ourselves at the mercy of foreign suppliers,” Palin said.
But she saved her strongest statements and harshest rebukes for Obama for the subject of foreign policy and taxes, saying John McCain could deliver where Obama could only talk,</p>
“In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers,” Palin said. “And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change.”