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Trippi: Palin's Speech Will Be Key Moment

CBS News consultant Joe Trippi writes about growing interest in Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her convention acceptance this week.

(ST. PAUL) Everywhere I go people are asking, if the revelations around Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's selection by John McCain to be his running mate have hurt the Arizona Senator's chances of winning the Presidency.

The truth, no matter what the polls say today, is that we don't know yet.

The massive amount of media focus on Palin over the past 48 hours, including her daughter's out of wedlock pregnancy and the potentially incompetent vetting of her by the McCain campaign, is setting the stage for her speech at the GOP convention here in St. Paul.

It is precisely because no one knows much about the Governor from Alaska, including, apparently the McCain campaign, that the questions surrounding her candidacy are building intense interest in her convention speech which will now be viewed by a television audience in the tens of millions.

With every question, with every controversy, the size of the audience likely to tune in to watch Governor Palin sink or swim in the treacherous waters of a full blown presidential campaign grows.

Governor Palin's speech is likely, one way or another, to provide the most dramatic moment of either convention.

Will she falter or rise to the challenge as the nation watches?

Interestingly, it is unclear when Palin will speak in St. Paul. There are growing signs that Governor Palin and John McCain may speak on the same night, the last night of the convention.

Expectations are so low for Palin, and the opportunity to connect with the growing viewing audience so high – like a hit TV show that lifts the ratings of the show that follows it, will McCain bask in the afterglow of Palin's success on Thursday night? Or will McCain be on hand to provide the damage control for his own errant judgment?

It is too early to tell.

But the mistake is to see the controversies and questions around Sarah Palin as damaging, they may turn out that way and John McCain may pay the price – but for now the interest they are creating in Palin may actually be building the moment and the opportunity John McCain and the GOP need to successfully turn the page.

Democrats should be vigilant against a scenario they may think unlikely – but none the less could easily occur if Palin surprises and is up to the task.

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