Anchorage residents express shock

Megan Holland

Reaction outside New Sagaya Midtown market this morning was a mixture of emotions. There was one feeling they all shared though: Shock.

Some people endorsed Sen. John McCain's pick of Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, calling it awesome, saying she's been an effective leader of the state, a governor who finally made progress on a gas pipeline project. Others said she doesn't have the experience or the knowledge when it comes to national issues, particularly foreign policy and the economy.

"Oh my goodness," said Vera White, heading into the market holding the hand of a squirming toddler. "I had a reaction. I don't know what the reaction was really. I just wanted to start crying for what reason I'm really not sure."

"Frankly, I think it just balances out the ticket," she finally said. "Obama knows nothing about foreign policy. He's a handsome, young black man. (Palin) hasn't been in office too long. ... And she's a beautiful woman."

George Thaggard woke up this morning, turned on the Fox news channel and heard about the Palin choice. "It's a surprise," he said as he was heading out of the market.

It's going to help McCain win the White House, he said. "She's going to get the women vote and conservatives in general."

But, he warned, "She could blow it by looking real inexperienced."

That was a sentiment shared by many.

"Taking someone with that level of inexperience and putting them in the vice presidency office, which is one step away from the presidency. ... I don't think she has the experience, that's not to say she won't in the future," Mark Selland said. "I just don't think it's the right time to pick her."

If McCain picked Palin because she was a woman, he said, "There are probably other women that are better qualified."

Kathy Faryniarz said, "He's taking a big chance putting her on the ticket. I don't think she has the depth."

Faryniarz said although she didn't vote for Palin, she thinks she is doing a decent job for Alaska. "But I don't think she's ready for prime time."

Faryniarz was a Hillary Clinton supporter and now is a Barack Obama supporter. She doesn't think Palin will pick up the Clinton female supporters.

"I don't think hardcore Democrats are going to go for that," she said. "She's nothing like Hillary. There's no way."

Jeff Carter said: "I thought Obama's speech last night was brilliant. Then I wake up a little perplexed because I really like Sarah Palin. She stands up to big oil. I work for an oil company, and I've always been proud of the fact that she can stare them right in the eye. I think it's a wise choice on McCain's part."

He said, though, she faces very tough competition. "I can't imagine her in a debate over the larger issues. That would surprise me if she could be good at that. They are going to have to school her up very quickly. She'll be debating a guy who's been in the U.S. Senate a long, long time and probably knows the issues very well. So that will be tough for her."

"McCain was looking for shock value because of how brilliant Obama was last night. I think he got it."

Pat Shafer said the choice is good for Alaska. "It's awesome. It puts us on the forefront," he said. "I don't know if it's the right choice, but I think it's a really interesting choice. It's a very provocative choice."

Jan Maj said, "It's fabulous. She was a great leader in her own community of Wasilla. And now has been a great leader for Alaska. It's excellent."

Marilyn Parrett doesn't want to see Palin leave Alaska. "That's the only reason I wouldn't want her to."

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