With John McCain’s recent selection of Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as a running mate, Professor Pitney proved accurate in forecasting that she might be a choice for the ticket. Before she was getting any national attention, Pitney recognized her potential as a Vice Presidential candidate. Those of us that took his class last year know that he was suggesting she might make an interesting dark horse candidate as early as last September, but an article in the Anchorage Daily News in December of last year is the earliest record I can find of his prediction.
She has dismissed speculation she might leave Juneau for higher office before her term expires in 2010, saying, â€œMy role as governor is where I can be most helpful right now unless something drastic happens, and I donâ€™t anticipate that right now.â€
Nevertheless, John J. Pitney Jr., a political scientist with Claremont McKenna College in California and former analyst for congressional Republicans, said Palin could be an ideal presidential running mate next year.
â€œWhat separates her from others is that at a time when Republicans have suffered from the taint of corruption, she represents clean politics,â€ Pitney said. In a recent piece on the Fox & Hounds Daily blog entitled “California Prof Nailed Palin VP Pick 10 Months Ago,” Joel Fox, the editor of the blog acknowledges Pitney’s forsight:John Pitney, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College spoke to the annual VICA (Valley Industry and Commerce Association) meeting in Studio City last October on the coming presidential race and offered a surprise suggestion for a Republican Vice-Presidential candidate: Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.Many of the attendees at the conference asked: Who? Many Americans this morning are probably asking the same question as John McCain announced he indeed selected Gov. Palin as his running mate.Pitney said he looked to Palin at the time because â€œall the Republican presidential candidates were white males of a certain age and practical politics indicates you should balance the ticket.â€ Pitney said the issue of corruption in Washington D.C,. was high and Palin is seen as a reformer. â€œIf you are looking for someone who is an outsider, you canâ€™t get much farther than Alaska.â€Pitney added, â€œShe was a reformer and someone who could excite the Republican base. She is pro-life and a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. If you Google her youâ€™ll find images of her holding guns.â€Now that McCain has made the pick, Pitney says it is a â€œpotentially terrific pick with a big caveat.â€ How will she do in the debates and especially how will she do with the first questions she gets on national policy. If she makes mistakes early, Pitney says, she could get a negative reputation that will be hard to shake.The big question: will the selection of a first term, young, Alaska governor undercut McCainâ€™s charge that Senator Barack Obama does not have the experience to be president? McCain turns 72 today and his Vice-Presidential pick will be one heart beat away.Pitney acknowledged that argument is a potential liability for the Republican ticket. However, Pitney said, â€œIf I were in charge of the talking points I would say that Sarah Palin has more executive experience than Obama and Biden put together.â€