DALLAS (Reuters) - Republican evangelicals are not the only political base vice presidential pick Sarah Palin is energizing.
Democratic foot soldiers have sprung into action in response to John McCain’s running-mate’s personal attacks on their candidate, Barack Obama, her opposition to abortion rights and her endorsement from religious conservatives.
“When Palin’s radical and extremist views are combined with her inexperience and questionable record, it makes for an energizing brew more potent than Red Bull,” said Colorado Democratic leader Pat Waak, referring to the caffeinated energy drink.
Palin’s impact on the left was seen almost immediately after her rousing speech last month at the Republican National Convention, when Obama’s campaign reported the next day that over $8 million had poured into it from over 130,000 donors.
More recently, Palin drew the ire of Democrats when she accused Obama of “palling around” with terrorists because he served on a community board in Chicago with former 1960s radical William Ayers.
“Her attacks will make liberals see red,” added political scientist Cal Jillson of Southern Methodist University.
The Alaska governor, skewered on late-night comedy shows and an object of liberal wrath on the blogosphere, has also proven an able fund-raiser for other secular and liberal causes before the November 4 presidential election.
Songwriter Gretchen Peters is donating the royalties from her song “Independence Day” during this election cycle to Planned Parenthood -- and asks that donations be made in honor of Palin. Planned Parenthood provides women’s health-care services, including abortion clinics, and is frequently a target of social conservatives.
Peters was angered by the McCain/Palin campaign’s use of the song, which is about domestic abuse.
“The fact that the McCain/Palin campaign is using a song about an abused woman as a rallying cry for their vice presidential candidate, a woman who would ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest, is beyond irony,” Peters says on her website.
“They are co-opting the song, completely overlooking the context and message, and using it to promote a candidate who would set women’s rights back decades,” she says.
Planned Parenthood spokesperson Tait Sye said a separate online campaign to raise money on its behalf “in honor of Sarah Palin” has netted more than $1 million from over 38,000 donors in all 50 states and two-thirds of the donations are from new donors who have not contributed to it before.
Organizations and activists who support abortion rights are a base for the Democratic Party. Abortion is a sharply divisive and highly partisan issue in the United States.
Palin, who bills herself as a moose-hunting mother of five, gave birth last spring to a Down syndrome baby and strongly opposes abortion rights.
“Sarah Palin has energized the Republican base in unexpected ways and there is always countermobilization to a successful mobilization,” said Jillson.
In the battleground state of Colorado, Democratic Party officials said they were getting a boost from Palin’s presence on the ticket.
“I am meeting women who have never been involved before, and they are really energized to work on behalf of the Obama-Biden ticket,” said party leader Waak.
The factors that make Palin such a target for liberals of course are the same that have enabled McCain to solidify his support among the Republican Party’s evangelical base.
President George W. Bush, a Republican, got almost 80 percent of the votes cast by white evangelical Protestants in the 2004 election and analysts have said McCain, who had failed to really excite this group before he picked Palin, cannot win without them.
Evangelicals account for about 25 percent of the U.S. adult population, giving them clout in a country where faith and politics often mix.
Editing by Doina Chiacu
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