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European Press Review: Upstaging McCain in St. Paul

In their coverage of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, European papers agreed that the star turn was Alaska Governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

John McCain und Sarah Palin

McCain and Sarah Palin -- did she steal his thunder?

"Barack Obama speaks to the urban middle classes," wrote Berlin's daily tageszeitung. "Sarah Palin represents the opinions of small town and rural America. They have long been waiting for a charismatic representative. Their disgust at career politicians has been growing in recent years. Sarah Palin comes across as a rebel, taking on the Establishment. Unexpectedly, that makes her a threat to Barack Obama."

The Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung was not convinced. "Sarah Palin gave a sterling performance at the convention," it wrote. "But too much should not be read into that. At this point, too many strange and surprising details about the governor of Alaska have emerged. It seems that McCain's people failed to vet her adequately; especially given they were filling the most important position in a presidential candidate's team. This negligence is part of the problem. Might McCain continue shooting from the hip in the White House? To many voters, it's an alarming prospect."

John McCain

McCain tends to shoot from the hip

Britain's daily The Guardian was equally unimpressed: "McCain, the self-styled maverick who has so often angered his own party by bucking the party line, was given a five-minute standing ovation at the start of his 50-minute speech and again at the end…. But, a poor orator who has made few -- if any -- memorable speeches in the past, he failed to match either the rhetoric of Obama in Denver last week or even the feisty, sarcastic delivery of his own running mate, Sarah Palin. Some of the loudest cheers of the night were when Palin, the new darling of the Republican Party, joined him at the end. Although the organizers said the theme of the day was "peace," the tone of videos shown earlier in the night as well as in his speech and those of others was heavily militaristic."

From Vienna, the Kurier described the nomination of Sarah Palin as evidence of the polarization of US society. "The crisis in which the country found itself in recent years did nothing to unite it, whatever Obama says. On the contrary, it deepened divisions. Bush did not win elections thanks to moderates, but because he managed to mobilize the country's right-wing. With her angry narrow-mindedness, gun-toting Palin has given these people back their pride, even with her weaknesses. Like Bush when he first came to office, she appears human -- especially to those Americans who are made nervous by Obama's professional speeches, open-mindedness and skin color -- racism does not disappear simply because one denies it exists."

In France, the center-left daily Le Monde also focused as much on Palin as McCain. "In recent months it looked as though it would be the moderate Republicans who decided the vote for McCain," it wrote. "But his choice of Sarah Palin as running mate is an attempt to win over the right wing of the party. He is keen to take a stand against the Harvard-educated elites, as supposedly embodied by his Democratic rival Barack Obama. One would have expected him to distance himself from the very unpopular George W. Bush, but the convention in Minneapolis reflected the current administration's politics. McCain is indeed what the Obama camp would paint him: a natural heir to Bush."

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