Sarah Palin cast herself as the PTA and hockey mom with bite on Wednesday night, using her much-anticipated speech before the Republican National Convention to define herself as a Washington outsider who will vigorously attack the Democratic presidential ticket.
“I was just your average hockey mom who signed up for the PTA,” the Alaska governor said in accepting the GOP nomination for vice president. “I signed up for the PTA because I wanted to make my children’s public education even better.”
The speech was well-received at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
“This was a home run,” said Crystal Kennedy, an Alaska delegate and a member of the Anchorage school board. “The country knows she means business.”
Phyllis Gorman, a retired teacher and small-business owner from Edmond, Okla., seconded that sentiment.
“I think she spoke from the heart,” Gorman, an Oklahoma delegate, said of the Alaska governor. “And she showed us she knows about being tough.”
Gorman said she didn’t know much about Palin’s record on education issues. But on Topic A of the week—the pregnancy of Palin’s daughter Bristol—the Oklahoman said the candidate was handling the situation “with grace.”
“We would all prefer the daughter to be married or not be pregnant,” Gorman said. “But that’s life.”
Palin’s service on the PTA gives her hands-on experience with school policy, said Cyndi C. Mosteller, a delegate from South Carolina.
“What other presidential candidate do you know that’s been in the education trenches like that?” Mosteller said.
And delegates lauded Palin’s pledge to serve as an advocate for children with special needs.
After acknowledging her infant son Trig, who has Down syndrome, the Alaska governor said, “Children with special needs inspire a special love.”
“To the families of special-needs children all across this country, I have a message: For years, you sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters,” Palin said. “I pledge to you that if we are elected, you will have a friend and advocate in the White House.”
“I would say that her experience gives her insight” that most people don’t have, said Geneva Taylor, a Colorado delegate and a retired banker from Steamboat Springs.” She’s going to make sure that those types of children are taken care of.”
--Mark Walsh & Alyson Klein