Friday, October 17, 2008

Palin Visiting Indiana Today

Late this afternoon, Gov. Palin will be holding a rally in the Indianapolis metropolitan area (Noblesville, to be precise). I want to comment on several aspects of this visit.

First, the fact that the McCain campaign is paying any attention whatsoever to Indiana is practically beyond belief. Not only has Indiana not voted for a Democrat for President since 1964 (before I was born), but come election night, the TV networks are usually able to project that the Republican candidate has won Indiana about 12 seconds after Indiana's polls close. I'm not sure that the big maps that the networks use even have blue pixels for Indiana. But this year, the McCain campaign has had to abandon true "battleground" states (like Michigan and Wisconsin) just to try to hold states that are usually solid red. Hence, Gov. Palin's visit to Indiana.

But that isn't the end of the unbelievable part of the story. We also have to look at where in Indiana Gov. Palin will be speaking. Noblesville is one of the suburbs on the far northside of Indianapolis (separated from Indianapolis by Carmel and Fishers). Noblesville is also in the middle of Indiana's 5th Congressional District. The 5th District, which is represented by Dan Burton, is one of the most conservative Congressional districts in the entire country. According to the Cook Partisan Voting Index, only 8 Congressional districts are more solidly Republican than Indiana's 5th District (and it is worth noting that of those 8, 2 are in Utah, 2 are in Texas, and 2 more are in the South; Indiana is the most solidly Republican district north of the Mason-Dixon line and east of the Mississippi). Dan Burton is safe on November 4 (as much as I'd love to see him go, I don't think that Mary Etta Ruley has a chance). Yet other Indiana Republicans are in trouble. Incumbent Rep. Mark Souder (3rd District) and Rep. Steve Buyer (4th District) are both facing tough challenges (from Mike Montagano and Nels Ackerson, respectively) and former Rep. Mike Sodrel's efforts to reclaim his seat in the 9th District from Rep. Baron Hill appears to be in trouble. Yet Gov. Palin isn't visiting any of those districts.

So why in the world would the McCain campaign spend resources or time sending Gov. Palin to give a rally in Indiana's 5th District? I wonder if it has anything do with the reason that people in the 5th District feel the need to steal Obama campaign signs or with the fact that Sen. Obama has numerous offices in the 5th District (he just opened a new office in Carmel this week to go with his office in Fishers). Could it be that the McCain campaign is truly worried about carrying Indiana and needs to rally its base in the reddest districts that it can find? If that's the situation, then Democrats should be additionally motivated to show up and vote on November 4.

There are some other aspects about Gov. Palin's visit that are worth mentioning. This year, Indiana is also holding a gubernatorial election. Incumbent Gov. Mitch Daniels is working to hold off an underfunded challenge by former Rep. Jill Long Thompson. Most of the polls show Gov. Daniels with a sizable lead. But guess who won't be appearing at Gov. Palin's rally? That's right, Gov. Daniels will be attending some kind of ribbon cutting event instead. Thompson was front and center at Sen. Obama's rally last week; could it be that Gov. Daniels wants to separate himself from the McCain-Palin campaign? If the number of houses with Daniels and Obama yard signs that I've seen is any indication, then that could be exactly what Gov. Daniels is trying to do.

Also, whoever scheduled the time and venue for the Gov. Palin's event is either (a) an idiot or (b) doesn't want a large crowd. The rally will be held at the Verizon Music Center (formerly [and forever in my mind] Deer Creek), a terrific outdoor concert facility. The problem is that getting to Verizon can be very difficult with large traffic jams common (you should see how the far northeast side of the city and suburbs jam up when Jimmy Buffet comes to town). Combine that with the fact that the rally is scheduled for a Friday afternoon and gridlock could be an understatement. But, hey, it's not my problem.

And why, exactly, does a prospective voter need a ticket to attend a Republican rally? Sen. Obama's rally was open to anyone who showed up. Sure we had to fill out a "ticket" at the event (which was never collected), but if I'd wanted to give false information I could have. But to gain admission to see Gov. Palin, you have to get a ticket from a Republican party headquarters office. Is the goal to be sure that only the party faithful show up?

Finally, I would be curious to know how Gov. Palin categorizes central Indiana. Does she think that we're one of the "pro-America" parts of the country or are we in the, apparently unpatriotic part? Don't know what I'm talking about? According to The Washington Post, yesterday, in North Carolina, Gov. Palin told the crowd that she loved to visit the "pro-America" areas of the country which, by implication, suggests that she views other areas of the country as "anti-America". I'd be curious to get a list of precisely which areas are anti-America. Maybe it's just areas where Democrats live. Or maybe it's Alaska where Todd Palin and his pals want independence from America. If Gov. Palin talked to the "liberal media" (instead of just doing infomercials with Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh), we might be able to ask her these questions, but as it stands right now, Joe the Plumber has given more press conferences than Gov. Palin.

And no, I won't be going to hear Gov. Palin speak.


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