Leahy, Douglas take differing views of the Palin nomination

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas says John McCain has a better chance of carrying Vermont in this fall’s presidential election because McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate.

But Senator Patrick Leahy has a very different point of view on the Palin nomination.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) There’s a big disagreement between Republican and Democratic leaders in Vermont if Governor Palin has the proper experience to be qualified to be one step away from the presidency.

Palin was elected governor of Alaska in November of 2006 and has now served 20 months in that position.

Previously, she served as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, a town of less than 7000 people.

Governor Douglas says he’s thrilled with Palin’s selection and he compared her experience with that of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama:

(Douglas) "We have a first term U.S. senator running for president on one ticket and a first term governor running for vice president on the other – the American people will have to weigh those factors and that level of experience to make a decision but I can tell you based on the person I know I think she’s very qualified."

But Senator Patrick Leahy says Palin doesn’t have the experience to deal with critical national and international issues:

(Leahy) "She seems like a very nice person, her husband seems like a very nice person but we’re at a time of enormous crises in America and I don’t think anybody can say seriously that this is somebody prepared to become president on a moment’s notice and this is not a time to not have experience and credibility."

During her first term in office, Douglas says Palin has been an effective governor fighting corruption in Alaska and he thinks her life story and her values will appeal to Vermont voters:

(Douglas) "Someone who grew up in a working class family married a fellow working Alaskan who’s an outdoors woman who hunts who fishes who snowmobiles who’s a hockey mom who’s raised a family who’s I think someone that most Americans can identify with very closely."

Leahy agrees that Palin has a compelling life story but he thinks a vice presidential candidate needs more experience:

(Leahy) "I live on a dirt road in Vermont I do a lot of shooting and I do a lot of hiking I do a lot of cross country skiing. I would have to think there are other things on my background that might make me qualified to be a U.S. senator."

Leahy says he thinks most Vermonters will make a decision of whom to vote for based on the candidates’ positions on the economy and the war in Iraq.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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