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Ticket Replay: S.C. Dem chair says Sarah Palin's 'primary qualification' is not having an abortion

The Ticket is republishing some items this weekend from the recent political season. This one originally appeared in this space on Sept. 10, 2008:

Thank goodness after all this lipstick-swine silliness we can get back to the important issues of this evolving presidential campaign, like whether Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin should have gotten an abortion upon learning during her recent pregnancy that she would give birth to a baby boy with Down syndrome.

South Carolina Democratic Party State Chairwoman Carol Fowler and her husband Don Fowler a former Democratic national committeeman

We were shocked too to learn today that the "issue" of her non-abortion had apparently not been vetted by Sen. John McCain's campaign.

Nor, it seems, has that problem come up during the hasty media vetting of the  44-year-old mother of five since she was named the surprise Republican vice presidential running mate on Aug. 29.

Fortunately, Carol Fowler, the chairwoman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, was on duty to alert the rest of us today. In the apparent Palin Panic that seems to be seizing some local Democrats, Fowler told Alex Burns over at Politico.com that the former city councilwoman, mayor, current governor and vice presidential nominee was a female candidate "whose primary qualification seems to be that she hasn't had an abortion."

The Ticket was, of course, in the Xcel Energy Center last week when....

...Palin gave her rousing acceptance speech to some 20,000 partisan attendees and another 37 million watching on TV. And our notes don't show anything about Palin addressing her personal decision.

She did introduce her family, including the newborn Trig, nearly 5 months old, who was the only one in the hall sleeping. (See photo below.)

Palin did mention how special joys sometimes also bring special challenges and how she would be a White House advocate for children with special needs. But she didn't say anything about what other people should do in her situation or boast of her decision to have her baby.

An early Obama supporter, Fowler told Politico that not choosing an abortion as Palin did from her own beliefs was not going to help the governor nor McCain get the women's vote on Nov. 4.

Since the decision occurred months before the VP search, winning votes for not aborting their Down syndrome baby would seem less a topic of likely discussion by the Palins and perhaps more revealing about the Democratic chair's thinking.

In an afternoon telephone conference call with reporters including The Times' Robin Abcarian, McCain supporter Sen. Lindsey Graham called Fowler's comment an "inappropriate, outrageous, demeaning personal attack" and urged Alaska Governor and Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin with her husband Todd and their newborn, Trigthe Democratic ticket to renounce it.

“This effort to demean her and wipe out all of her accomplishments because she disagrees with the NARAL crowd will not work," Graham added, "and most Americans are gonna be offended by this.”

"The American people, especially women, are watching this," said Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who said she saw Fowler's statement as an emerging pattern of sexism in the Democrats' campaign.

This evening, without mentioning Gov. Palin by name, Fowler issued a "Statement Concerning Politico Interview."

She said, in part, "I personally admire and respect the difficult choices that women make every day, and I apologize to anyone who finds my comment offensive. I clumsily was making a point about people in South Carolina who may vote based on a single issue....That was the only point I was attempting to make."

An Obama spokesman later noted that Fowler was not speaking for the campaign.

Ticket readers may remember Fowler's husband, Don, a former Democratic national committee man and Hillary Clinton supporter, who was forced to apologize recently for being caught on tape happily noting that Hurricane Gustav's approach to New Orleans during the Republican National Convention "just demonstrates God is on our side."

--Andrew Malcolm

Photo credits: Associated Press (top, Don and Carol Fowler); Office of the Alaska Governor (bottom).

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May God richly bless Sarah Palin for not killing her baby.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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