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Blunt, Phyllis Schlafly praise Palin pick

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 1, 2008 -  ST. PAUL -- Few Republicans were more gleeful Monday morning than Phyllis Schlafly, the anti-abortion conservative founder of the Eagle Forum, was when she showed up at the Missouri GOP breakfast. Schlafly suggested that she and Sen. John McCain were on the same wave length when it came to picking a running mate that would appeal to conservatives.

He picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. By coincidence, Schlafly had chosen Palin two months ago as the speaker for Schlafly's Republican National Coalition for Life session, one of the events held during GOP convention week. It takes place here Tuesday afternoon.

Schlafly noted that speakers at her Coalition for Life event during two previous GOP conventions have included Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.

"But this time we struck it rich," Schlafly said of picking Palin. "This time people are clamoring to get to our (Coalition for Life) party" because Palin is scheduled to speak.

Schlafly's praise of Palin came before news broke later in the day that Palin's 17-year-old daughter Bristol was five months pregnant and intended to marry the father. How Schlafly and other conservatives would react to that news was not immediately known, but for now she is full of praise for the woman that McCain chose as his running mate.

"The more Democrats talk about Sarah Palin's lack of experience, the more it hurts Obama," Schlafly says, "because it makes us realize he (Obama) doesn't have any executive experience. Also, I object to him because he's a guy who has never worked with his hands. He's just an elitist who has done nothing but community organizing."

While claiming Obama is out of touch with ordinary Americans, Schlafly said Palin understands that "people are hurting about losing their jobs. She knows how people live in this country."

Asked if Republican were now hijacking family issues that Democrats underscored during their convention last week, Schlafly said: "It's the Democrats who are learning from the Republican victories. They learned after (former Vice President) Al Gore lost in 2000. He lost states he should have carried – Tennessee, his own state, and Arkansas and West Virginia – on the gun issue. Now you find a lot of Democrats trying to tell us how they love guns."

Schafly argued that Democrats are hurt because feminists have a "death grip around the top levels of the Democratic Party."

Gov. Matt Blunt, the key speaker at Tuesday's breakfast, also praised Palin and dismissed Obama as being "more liberal than the socialist" Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Blunt said Palin was a good fit for Missouri because "she understands the common concerns of the average family. In any suburb of St. Louis and in St. Louis city, she would connect with people in those communities … because she understands a lot of the challenges and concerns."

Blunt noted that his party had made some changes in the convention schedule because of the problems of people threatened by Hurrican Gustav along the Gulf Coast, from Louisiana to Texas. At the same time, he said delegates shouldn't forget their commitment to elect McCain in November.

Although Tuesday morning's session seemed to lack the energy of similar breakfast meetings hosted by Democrats during their convention in Denver, Schlafly says she has noticed a lot of enthusiasm among Republicans. She said Palin would be a great help to Republicans in the fight to win Missouri.

"I think it's more energy around Palin. It's just an amazing revival of energy across the board among grassroots Republicans. I'm very optimistic -– that is, if the Democrats don't steal it."

Robert Joiner has carved a niche in providing informed reporting about a range of medical issues. He won a Dennis A. Hunt Journalism Award for the Beacon’s "Worlds Apart" series on health-care disparities. His journalism experience includes working at the St. Louis American and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where he was a beat reporter, wire editor, editorial writer, columnist, and member of the Washington bureau.

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