Written by Catie Ertel
The 2008 Presidential elections promise to be among the most historic and exciting elections in US history. If they were to be elected, John McCain would be the oldest first- term president, and Barack Obama would be the first African- American president.
However, the Vice Presidential nominees for each party have been getting almost as much attention as the Presidential nominees.
For the Republican Party, Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin has attracted a great deal of media attention. At age 44, Palin is the second woman to be nominated for Vice President. She holds very conservative views and many believe her selection was made in hopes to strengthen support from the Republican base.
Palin’s political experience has been widely criticized. Starting her political career in 1992, Palin served for six years as a city council member in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska. She then went on to become the mayor of Wasilla, and during her campaign the Alaska State Republican Party advertised for her campaign, supporting her. As mayor, she cut property taxes and worked towards helping Wasilla to grow by improving infrastructure and the police force. She was also an advocate of anti-abortion efforts and improving gun control laws, though she herself is a member of the National Rifle Association.
Some controversy has surrounded her term as mayor. There have been reports of her asking the public librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, about banning books from the library. When the librarian refused to ban any books, Palin had her fired, though changed her mind after community members showed their support for Emmons.
Despite these controversies, Palin has been praised as a mayor for her efforts to reform. For example, in order to lower property taxes 40%, she lowered her own salary.
After her terms as mayor, Palin became governor of Alaska in 2006, becoming the first woman to hold that position. As governor, she used the budget’s surplus to give each Alaskan resident a $100 energy debit card to spend on gas in response to rising gas and oil prices. She also gave grants to energy companies in order to reduce their rates.
As the Republican vice presidential nominee, she has voiced her strong opposition to gay marriage and abortion. She supports development of natural gas and oil drilling in Alaska. She has also spoken strongly for reform and cutting wasteful government spending and corruption.
On the other end of the political spectrum, Joe Biden is running alongside Barack Obama as the Democratic vice presidential nominee. Joe Biden has served a considerable number of years in the Senate, being elected as senator of Delaware in 1972 at the young age of 30. Shortly after being elected, Biden’s first wife Neilia and his three children, Naomi, Beau, and Robert were involved in a serious car accident where Neilia and Naomi were killed. His two remaining sons were left in critical condition, and at first Biden considered resigning from the position of Senator so he could care for them. However, then Majority Leader Mike Mansfield convinced him not to, and so Biden was sworn in at the hospital where his sons were being treated.
As Senator, Biden has served on the Judiciary Committee and is chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. He has sponsored several pieces of legislation, including the Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy, or RAVE Act, which worked to cut down on the manufacturing and usage of club drugs like Ecstasy. He also sponsored the Violence Against Women Act, which helped aid women in abusive situations, and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which increased the country’s police force and funded crime prevention programs.
Concerning his stances on the Iraq War, Biden voted in favor of the war in 2002. He has been in favor of more increasing US troops and troops from other countries , as well as holding President Bush accountable for the length and cost of the war. In 2006, he proposed dividing Iraq into three sections, one each for the Kurds, the Sunnis, and the Shi’ites. The Bush administration disagreed with this proposal.
Biden’s political positions favor additional federal spending on new sources of energy rather than more drilling, and also favor working with the United Nations in efforts to control global warming. Biden also opposes privatization of Social Security.
Analysts believe that the Obama campaign chose Biden in hopes to balance the ticket with Biden’s extensive experience in the Senate with foreign policy and national security.
This past month, both Joe Biden and Sarah Palin attracted considerable media attention. With McCain recently celebrating his 72nd birthday, and an assassination plot on Obama being discovered the week of the Democratic National Convention, the Presidential nominees’ picks for running mates have been of considerable importance to American voters. Information and education about each nominee is essential for each voter to make their decision.