Palin Critics Grow Louder

From ABC's Kate Snow and Imtiyaz Delawala:

There's new evidence today of conservative concerns about vice presidential candidate Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, particularly when it comes to her ability to handle interviews. 

Palin's latest interview with CBS' Katie Couric is drawing fire from conservatives on-line. Whether those voices represent a broader wave of concern is more difficult to say.

The Palin campaign dismisses the critiques and encourages viewers to watch the full interview with Couric, not just clips.

But clearly, some conservatives are unhappy.  Very unhappy.

One prominent Republican tells ABC's Jonathan Karl that if he were Obama, he would buy airtime to run, and re-run, the Palin interviews. 

"They're dreadful," the prominent Republican said.

Go on the internet and you'll find a chorus of naysayers, including prominent conservative columnists.

Take for example, syndicated conservative columnist Kathleen Parker. She writes that Palin's candidacy was "fun while it lasted" but that it's time now for Palin to drop from the ticket.

"Do it for your country," Parker implores.

"Palin's recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League," Parker writes.

“My cringe reflex is exhausted,” Parker continues.  “Palin filibusters. She repeats words, filling space with deadwood.”

Conservative columnist Rod Dreher slams Palin’s performance as a “debacle” and “embarrassing”.   

"Couric's questions are straightforward and responsible," Dreher writes. "Palin is mediocre, again, regurgitating talking points mechanically, not thinking. Palin's just babbling. She makes George W. Bush sound like Cicero."

Dreher makes the analogy to not being prepared for his final exam in a college class.  See Jake Tapper's blog for more.

Dreher calls an exchange between Couric and Palin about the proximity of Alaska to Russia and how that plays into Palin's foreign policy qualifications "a train wreck".   

Palin told Couric during that exchange: "We have trade missions back and forth, we do. It's very important when you consider even national-security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right next to, they are right next to our state."

To be fair, many of the readers commenting on Dreher's post disagree with his column.

A third conservative blogger, Ross Douthat at the Atlantic, has also turned on Palin, after touting her this summer as a good potential pick for McCain.

Douthat jokes that he is quoting his own inner monologue, while watching the Couric interview.

"And that, Douthat, is why nobody's ever going to hire you to help pick their running mate," he writes.

Asked to respond to some of the criticism, Tucker Eskew, senior advisor to Governor Palin, says the full interviews of Palin with Couric and Fox's Sean Hannity and ABC's Charles Gibson speak to Palin's abilities.

Palin will be interviewed by Couric again next week but there are no other plans for more interviews as of yet.

The campaign believes Palin comes off in her interviews as "confident" and someone who "speaks like Americans speak", according to spokeswoman Maria Comella. 

Eskew won't "dignify with a response" Parker's assertion that Palin should drop out of the race. 

He says Palin is used to being dismissed by critics and underestimated.

And both Eskew and Comella say Palin is forging ahead with debate preparations on Friday in Philadelphia.

Campaign officials are convinced Palin has created a new energy for McCain's campaign.

Indeed, ABC News polls showed a surge in McCain’s support after the Palin selection.  The latest ABC News poll shows Palin's approval rating receding by six points.

"She is drawing gi-normous crowds" and drawing-- in Tucker's words-- "gi-normous" crowds.

"She's brought energy to this race," Comella said.

Kathleen Parker—the columnist now calling on Palin to drop out-- said she had originally been "pulling for Palin."

Indeed, on September 3 Kathleen Parker wrote that Palin's candidacy "has cast a bright light on the limitations of our old ideological templates."  And on September 10 she wrote that McCain's "political judgment in selecting the Alaska governor was keen."

But a review of her columns shows she has not always offered high praise for the Governor.

On September 19, Parker wrote: "I worry.  Was she the most qualified person in McCain’s field of running mates?  Clearly not."

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