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Starting Gate: All About Sarah

(ST. PAUL) Everyone, it seems, is learning a lot more about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin than was known a few short days ago, including many in the Republican Party and not a few on John McCain's own campaign. Since being plucked out of relative obscurity, the governor has been thrust into the national spotlight and spurred a feeding frenzy among reporters and operatives trying to find out just who this person is that McCain selected as potentially the next vice president.

And so a round of revelations has followed – that her 17 year-old daughter is pregnant, that she was for the bridge to nowhere before she was against it, that she was once a member of a state party which supports secession and that her husband was arrested for drunk driving over twenty years ago.

Did the campaign vet this choice thoroughly? According to many in the tight-knit Alaska community who spoken up, the answer appears to be no. Many state officials, friends and neighbors who have been quoted say they were shocked at the choice and had no idea the campaign was seriously considering Palin. Not at all, the McCain campaign has pushed back. They say Palin was put through a "full and complete" examination. In an interview with the AP, Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr., the attorney who directed McCain's vetting process was asked if all the "red flags" have been made public. "I think so," he responded. "Yeah, I think so. Correct."

Not terribly encouraging for nervous Republicans wondering what shoe might drop next on Palin. We're not there quite yet but anymore startling revelations about the governor or her family could put this story at a tipping point in terms of public perception, even among the delegates here at the convention most all of who continue to support her enthusiastically.

The sheer volume of Palin coverage is somewhat jarring, but it shouldn't be unexpected. She is a public figure nobody knows much about from a state that is as unfamiliar to the New York-Washington corridor as a small foreign country. That dynamic may have been one of the reasons McCain chose her – shake up the race as well as introduce a component as removed from the culture of Washington as possible.

Whether the campaign was prepared for all that has flooded forth in terms of information about Palin remains a question mark. But – as long as the revelations slow to at least a trickle – there doesn't seem to be anything yet that does any real core damage to the ticket. And, the campaign has yet to roll her out for her own introduction. For their sake, that probably should happen soon.

Getting to know all about Sarah Palin may yet turn into a positive for McCain's campaign and their ticket. So far, though, she remains a blank page that is beginning to be filled up in a negative way for many voters.

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