Two new national polls show that voters cite the choice of Sarah Palin as the main reason they have turned from McCain.
Indeed, his slippage in the poll began in September after his convention bounce, and before the financial crisis truly hit, as media vetting on Palin began and she ventured out for her first TV interview.
But here is another measure: the brutal criticism of that pick in newspaper editorial endorsements of his opponent -- from GOP-leaning papers that endorsed George W. Bush.
Many of them cited his Palin pick as a key reason for switching sides this time around. As the Chicago Tribune, which backed a Democrat for president for the first time in its history, frankly declared, “McCain failed in his most important executive decision."
Yet McCain said today, referring to Palin, "I think she is the MOST qualified of any that has run recently for vice president.”
Here is a gallery of some of these comments, all from Bush-backing papers in 2004.
“McCain failed in his most important executive decision. Give him credit for choosing a female running mate--but he passed up any number of supremely qualified Republican women who could have served. Having called Obama not ready to lead, McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. His campaign has tried to stage-manage Palin's exposure to the public. But it's clear she is not prepared to step in at a moment's notice and serve as president. McCain put his campaign before his country.”
ASBURY PARK PRESS (NJ)
“If McCain, who is 72 and has a history of cancer, should die in the presidency, he would be succeeded by Sarah Palin, whose selection as the vice presidential candidate calls McCain's judgment into serious question. She is not qualified to lead a nation facing its toughest challenges in decades.” SALT LAKE TRIBUNE (UTAH)
“Then, out of nowhere, and without proper vetting, the impetuous McCain picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. She quickly proved grievously underequipped to step into the presidency should McCain, at 72 and with a history of health problems, die in office. More than any single factor, McCain's bad judgment in choosing the inarticulate, insular and ethically challenged Palin disqualifies him for the presidency.”
“Perhaps the worst mistake McCain made in his campaign for the White House
was the choice of the inexperienced and inflammatory Palin as his vice-presidential running mate. Had he selected a moderate, experienced Republican lawmaker such as Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison with a strong appeal to independents, the Chronicle's choice for an endorsement would have been far more difficult.”
STOCKTON (Ca.) RECORD
“If elected, at 72, [McCain] would be the oldest incoming president in U.S. history. He's in good health now, we're told, although he has withheld most of his medical records. That means Gov. Sarah Palin could very well become president.PASADENA STAR-NEWS (CALIF.)
And that brings us to McCain's most troubling trait: his judgment.
While praiseworthy for putting the first woman on a major-party presidential ticket since Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, his selection of Palin as a running mate was appalling. The first-term governor is clearly not experienced enough to serve as vice president or president if required."
“His selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as running mate, a move intended to energize the ticket and galvanize the Republican party, has rallied some supporters, but left others, including some in his own party, wondering whether McCain had put politics ahead of prudence.”MASON CITY GLOBE GAZETTE (IOWA)
“McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as running mate rang of desperation; an attempt to appeal to Democratic female voters upset that Hillary Clinton is not their party’s nominee and to make the Republican ticket seem more change-oriented by having someone that’s about as far removed from Washington as possible. Palin is talented in many ways, and we admire her regular-gal persona. But is she the person we want as president if something happens to the person we elect Nov. 4? Absolutely not. Although she plays well to the Republican conservative base, she leaves others gasping incredulously at McCain’s choice.”HAMILTON JOURNAL NEWS (OHIO)
“As much as we respect the loyal and courageous service of Sen. McCain in the military and in Congress, his record of supporting the Bush administration's policies, particularly his support for the costly and unnecessary war in Iraq; his impulsive and improvident selection of an ill-prepared running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin; and his negative, conflicted and uneven campaign lead us to believe that he is not the man to lead the nation at a time when extraordinary change is needed.”THE COLUMBIAN (WASH.)
“As for judgment, Obama chose a running mate who neither hurt him in the polls nor diverted the spotlight from the main man on the ticket. McCain’s choice has done both. McCain tries to masquerade this recklessness as the virtue of a maverick. Would he use that same recklessness in appointing Supreme Court justices and Cabinet members?”YAKIMA HERALD (WASH.)
“Sarah Palin. The governor of Alaska took the national political scene by storm, and by surprise, when McCain picked her as his running mate. Palin has obvious appeal to the conservative wing of the Republican party, and her outspoken, folksy ways brought her a lot of attention for a while. But her 15 minutes of fame in the national spotlight are over. On the campaign trail, we're not seeing the kind of substance, depth and breadth of experience that's necessary in someone a heartbeat away from the presidency.”