John McCain's surprise pick of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will have no effect on the Kentucky race for president, political insiders say.
"McCain is going to win Kentucky," said Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville. "Even if he had picked someone who was not living — if he had picked Abe Lincoln — I don't feel that it will have an effect on the Kentucky vote."
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Independent polls taken in recent months of Kentucky voters have routinely shown McCain with a commanding lead over Democrat Barack Obama.
Still, Republicans applauded McCain's choice, saying that Palin will attract conservatives and women — key groups that McCain was trying to court. But Democrats questioned whether Palin, 44, might ultimately hurt McCain because of her lack of experience
"I think it was a huge mistake," said Danny Briscoe, a Democratic political consultant. "She has very little experience, if any. I don't think she's qualified to be president."
Palin is a former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, who became governor of her state in December 2006. She is three years younger than Obama, whom McCain has repeatedly criticized for his relative lack of national political experience.
The view from Minneapolis, site of next week's Republican National Convention, was more positive. Steve Robertson, chairman of the Kentucky Republican Party, was in Minneapolis when McCain announced Palin as his choice for vice president.
"It was just raw enthusiasm," Robertson said. "The members of the (Republican National) Committee are just ecstatic. It's the game changer that we hoped would occur."
Robertson said Kentucky voters will like Palin.
"She has an extraordinary personal story," Robertson said, adding that he had urged the McCain campaign to consider the first-term Alaskan governor for the No. 2 position.
Robertson said he has not heard whether Palin and McCain will campaign in Kentucky.
Garred See certainly hopes so. See and more than 50 other Kentucky Republicans took a bus from Lexington to Dayton for McCain's announcement and to hear Palin give her first speech of the campaign.
"I am not kidding when I say, I just saw the first woman president of the United States," See said. "I haven't seen Republicans this excited since Ronald Reagan."
J. Scott Jennings, a Republican strategist, called the Palin pick a blockbuster. "Their pick is a far more attention-grabbing pick than the Obama decision," Jennings said. "He is not getting any attention this morning."
Jennings said that Palin's anti-abortion stance and longtime NRA membership will probably appeal to conservative voters.
But State Sen. Katie Stine, R-Southgate, the highest ranking female Republican in the state, said Palin's personal story will be what moves many voters.
"She's the only one of the four of them that has had executive experience," Stine said of the presidential and vice presidential candidates. "She's the only one that balanced a budget and she's a working mother who has raised five children."