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Baysiders baffled by McCain’s veep pick

Queens residents had mixed reactions to U.S. Sen. John McCain's decision to choose Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate with some voters saying the Republican presidential nominee's pick was misguided and others praising it as a bold move.

In a surprise move, the Arizona Republican tapped virtual unknown Palin, a mother of five who has served as Alaska's governor for a mere 18 months, Friday as the Republican vice presidential nominee.

Some Republicans said the senator's choice reflected his maverick image, while others were left questioning the wisdom of his selection.

McCain is currently fielding questions about an investigation by the Alaskan Legislature into Palin's dismissal of a state public safety commissioner who failed to fire her brother-in-law as well as recent revelations that her 17-year-old unwed daughter is pregnant.

Democrats instantly pounced on McCain's choice, accusing him of picking an inexperienced candidate.

People interviewed along Bell Boulevard in Bayside had mixed reactions to McCain's choice.

"I think a Republican woman is still a Republican," Bayside resident Samantha Thacker said. "I equate McCain's choice with [former president] George H.W. Bush's choosing Dan Quayle because he was young."

Thacker said she had supported U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-N.Y.) presidential candidacy, but now backs U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the Democratic Party's nominee.

"This woman is no Hillary Clinton," she said. "And I do not think Hillary's supporters who would have voted for McCain will do so now because of this."

Bayside's Grace Goldsborough said she found McCain's choosing Palin to be baffling.

"It's confusing," she said. "I don't know about her. McCain doesn't seem to know anything about this woman."

Goldsborough said she planned to vote for Obama because she believed he was most qualified.

Heather Cowley, a Long Island resident who works in Bayside, said she thought McCain might have ruined his chances of being elected by picking the Alaskan governor.

"I think he has given the election to the Democrats," she said. "I think [Palin] is inexperienced and ultra-conservative."

But a Bayside resident named George who would not give his last name said he thought McCain's pick reinforced the senator's image of a politician who makes his own decisions.

"It's a sign of his leadership and statesmanship," said George, who believes George W. Bush's presidency has been disastrous. "I think he is trying to create a new image for the Republican Party. [Palin] is a frontier woman, not a politician. I think it's the kind of change we need in Washington."

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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