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Alaska's No. 1 newspaper makes its pick: Barack Obama

October 26, 2008 |  3:55 am

It can't be cast as a surprise that the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska's major newspaper, has endorsed the Democratic presidential ticket.

It did so in 2004. And, as editorial writers of all stripes are used to, most of the paper's readers paid little heed to the guidance they were offered. President Bush easily carried Alaska four years ago (as has each GOP candidate in every presidential election since it became a state in 1959, save one -- the 1964 Lyndon Johnson landslide).

This year, to the surprise of many, Alaska's allegiance in November's vote did not seem a foregone conclusion. Going into late August, polls showed that its 3 electoral votes were up for grabs. Barack Obama was advertising in the state, and his campaign listed it as a battleground.

But then John McCain picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. At the time, her popularity among her constituents was off the charts. It has ebbed some, but with her on the GOP ticket, the state again can be counted as safely in the Republican column.

The just-published Daily News editorial reflects the understandable pride Alaskans feel in having one of their own playing in....

...the political big leagues. But, the commentary adds, "it does not overwhelm all other judgment."

McCain, the piece continues, "is the wrong choice for president at this critical time for our nation."

Obama, it asserts, "brings far more promise to the office. In a time of grave economic crisis, he displays thoughtful analysis, enlists wise counsel and operates with a cool, steady hand. The same cannot be said of Sen. McCain."

And of its native daughter, the paper says this:

Gov. Palin has shown the country why she has been so successful in her young political career. Passionate, charismatic and indefatigable, she draws huge crowds and sows excitement in her wake.

She has made it clear she's a force to be reckoned with, and you can be sure politicians and political professionals across the country have taken note. Her future, in Alaska and on the national stage, seems certain to be played out in the limelight.

Yet despite her formidable gifts, few who have worked closely with the governor would argue she is truly ready to assume command of the most important, powerful nation on earth.

To step in and juggle the demands of an economic meltdown, two deadly wars and a deteriorating climate crisis would stretch the governor beyond her range. Like picking Sen. McCain for president, putting her one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world is just too risky at this time.

The Daily News may not march to the same drummer as the majority of Alaska's voters, but it certainly is in tune with the prevailing view among its ink-stained brethren (see the latest endorsement tally here).

-- Don Frederick

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