Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Sarah Palin: If I cost McCain one vote, I'm sorry

Hee haw: Sarah Palin is seen wearing a scarf emblazoned with donkeys at a rally in Nevada on Tuesday. The donkey has become the established political symbol for the Democratic Party

Sarah Palin tonight said she was sorry if she 'cost John McCain even one vote' and that it was giving her too much credit to blame her for the Republican defeat.

Mrs Palin, who will now be in the running to challenge Barack Obama for the presidency in 2012, blamed the economic crisis which engulfed the country for the loss.

In her interview with CNN today, the Alaska governor, who went from being hailed as a bold "breath of fresh air" to being ridiculed on the national stage, denied the McCain-Palin campaign had descended into nasty in-fighting.

"I don't think anybody should give Sarah Palin that much credit, that I would trump an economic, woeful time in this nation, that occurred about two months ago, that my presence on the ticket would trump the economic crisis that America found itself in and attribute John McCain's loss to me," she said.

"But having said that, if I cost John McCain even one vote, I am sorry about that because John McCain is, I believe, the American hero.

"I believe he would have been the best pick, but he is not the Americans' choice at this time."

As to Mr McCain, he blamed no-one but himself as he conceded defeat with one of the best speeches of his campaign last night.

"We fell short. The failure is mine not yours," the Arizona senator said at his subdued election night party in Phoenix.

Cries of "No, no" and "We want John" came from the crowd, but his defeat came from the fact that his story, that of an indisputable American hero, an experienced leader and a maverick willing to cross party lines, became diluted in the closing months of his campaign.

Instead, a series of confusing messages emerged as he moved from crisis to crisis, changing tactics and storylines along the way, leaving the American public with little grasp of what he stood for, despite several decades in the public eye.

He often seemed angry and awkward on the campaign trail, a significant problem when faced with one of the most accomplished orators in modern history.

Coupled with Mrs Palin's plummeting popularity among independent voters, his campaign was doomed.

Mr McCain also had to deal with the baggage of one of the most unpopular Republican presidents in history and his rivals wasted no time in tying Mr McCain to Mr Bush strongly and frequently.

He tried to manage the role of the incumbent president, keeping him completely off the campaign trail, but millions of Americans were repeatedly told that a McCain administration would mean four more years of Mr Bush's failed policies which have damaged the nation's reputation.

The issues in the 2008 election were also not those Mr McCain would have chosen.

Mr McCain, who is widely seen as a foreign policy expert, admitted the economy was not his strongest subject and said its fundamentals were "strong" just days before a financial crisis engulfed the nation, the world and his campaign.

He contributed little to an emergency White House meeting, despite suspending his campaign to tackle the crisis, and many US politicians criticised his interference as ineffective.

In the end, exit polls showed six in 10 voters picked the economy as the most important issue facing the nation.

None of the other top issues - energy, Iraq, terrorism and health care - was selected by more than one in 10.

Almost six in 10 women supported Mr Obama nationwide, while men leaned his way by a narrow margin, according to interviews with voters.

Slightly more than half of whites supported Mr McCain, giving him a slim advantage in a group that Republican George Bush carried overwhelmingly in 2004.

Americans also voted in record numbers.

An estimated 136.6 million Americans will have voted for president this election, based on 88% of the country's precincts tallied and projections for absentee ballots, according to Michael McDonald, of George Mason University.

That would give 2008 a 64.1% turnout rate, the highest since 65.7% 100 years ago, he said.

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