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Alaskans have mixed feelings about Sarah Palin as VP candidate--and as a governor

ADEMOLA BELLO | 4/12/2011, 4:34 p.m.

The selection of Alaska's Gov. Sarah Palin as Republican Party vice presidential candidate has energized some within the conservative base who weren't sure about voting for John McCain before. It has also raised questions and doubts about the record and

readiness of the "hockey mom from Wasilla" to be "a heart- beat away from the presidency."

In Alaska, the AmNews spoke to people across the state who know her record in political office best. Here is what some of them said: Gail Johnson (60, a retired Navy officer, Anchorage): "I think she is in way over her head. She was lucky enough to slide into Republican government because she was viewed as not corrupt, who was different from the old guard. People are starting to have buyer's remorse about her. She has no depth of knowledge [but] she is very, very ambitious. She gets vicious--she throws people who help her under the bus. She has an inner circle called 'Palin-bots. They jump to her defense [and] they defend her no matter what she does. She created a false impression that she would work for women and the disabled and has done nothing for them. It is ridiculous that McCain would choose someone that has no experience as VP. There is no serious- ness or gravity to what she says in interviews."

Michael Adams (55, photographer, Valdez): "I think she is the best possible choice. I admire her. She is a great governor of Alaska. She finalized the gas-tax proposal that the last administration failed to do."'

Maya Salganecka (32, filmmaker, Fairbanks): "Sarah Palin reminds me of Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter series--seemingly sweet and good-natured on the outside but sadistic and power-hungry through and through. Like Umbridge, Palin seems to delight in intimidating people, distorting the truth and professes that non-education is the same as good education. Palin has managed to conceal huge issues [like] her pregnancy and the VP nomination until the last possible moment, proving that, like Umbridge, Palin is not to be trusted." Suzanne Caldwell (20, student, Wasilla): "As McCain's running mate I think she's an interesting choice. She did great things as governor of Alaska but she has only been there for two years. I think it is incredible that a local girl from Wasilla gets onto the national stage. She wasn't as active in Wasilla when she became governor. She was approachable, and she is still approachable." Len Kamerling (62, scholar and filmmaker, Fairbanks): "I found it very frightening that she was nominated as a VP candidate. Sarah Palin's views are very extreme to the right. She believes that the war in Iraq was a task from God to America. Most people in America know it was a horrible, stupid mistake by a president who doesn't understand the consequences. She is very thinly educated. I want someone who has broad education and profound intellectual ability and knowledge. Mrs. Palin has no sense of the world; that I also found very frightening." Arthur Rotch (30s, artistic director Perseverance Theatre, Juneau): "She is very good at seizing a moment. Running against Frank Murkowski, a sitting governor in her own party, took guts and smarts. Because of his dismal record [and] incredibly uncharismatic style, she easily defeated him and rode that momentum to win the general election. Through it all, she was brilliant at saying as little as needed while tackling head-on the things that she couldn't avoid. That is how she made a name for herself as a reformer and fighter. Her becoming the nominee says more about John McCain than Sarah Palin, since it was his choice. That said, she can't possibly be considered qualified today to succeed McCain as president, but don't underestimate her ability to learn quickly." Elizabeth Carew (72,retired federal employee, Anchorage): "I didn't vote for her in the last election. I believe the Republican Party is not for the poor people. I don't think she would be a good vice president because of lack of experience and lack of knowledge of foreign policy. What she has done as a governor shows that she will use the office against her enemies. She has not been professional as a governor. She is not sophisticated enough to do her work without getting personal." Pete Melde (47, scientist, Anchorage): "If you like the views of extreme conservatism, you will like her. She represents George Bush. I don't like her. She is a horrendous human being. She is the worst thing you can find in a politician. She is a backstabber. She has a TV personality. The outside doesn't match the inside. She believes her way is THE way. She is very unpleasant; she does things in a sneaky way. One of the first things she did as a governor was vote to cut benefits for gay partners that cost a million dollars. This is a woman that campaigned to cut spending and yet spent a million dollars on a trivial thing." Tamara Boeckman (22, student, Anchorage): "I have a high opinion of her. What I've heard of her is good. I like the fact that she passed the energy act that gave us more money. I like her for her pro-life position. I believe she has enough experience and she is a smart lady."