[Outlook]Running face-off

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[Outlook]Running face-off

Injecting a new twist into the presidential race, Republican presidential candidate John McCain introduced his vice presidential running mate in Dayton, Ohio. His dramatic address introduced Alaskan governor Sarah Palin, 44, as his vice presidential running mate. She is a truly attractive figure who has become the “Cinderella of American politics.” She and her Tup’ik Eskimo husband Todd have five children, two boys and three girls. Media outlets in the United States are busy finding out more about Palin as the 2008 Republican National Convention prepares to get under way.

McCain has certainly made a brave choice. He chose Palin as his vice presidential nominee to get those voters who supported Hillary Clinton for their party’s nomination in the Democratic Primary. A 72-year-old, McCain picked Palin who is four years younger than the youthful Barack Obama, over several more prominent choices, to target young voters as part of the party’s campaign strategies.

They visited and conducted a unified campaign in a crucial battleground state of Pennsylvania, a must win for any candidate in the presidential election. Everyone wonders whether the gamble will pay off.

American voters have different views on Palin. Despite her advantages ?? a new, revolutionary young woman - many people doubt whether she is eligible to be the next vice president, someone capable of ruling the nation if the president dies. Even though she is a self-made person, however, we will have to wait and see if she can calm Obama’s political storm.

She is far less experienced with low name recognition, so it would be difficult for her to outdo Joe Biden, who is Obama’s pick as his running mate, an eloquent politician with an experienced eye. Therefore, Palin has many mountains to climb to be America’s first female vice president.

Now, she should persuade people to believe she is a good female politician, like Hillary Clinton. This will be crucial in her foremost task to win female voters. In addition, she should deliver an address that can make a deep impression on the audience to take the lead to get young voters as Obama does.

Furthermore, she should display her potential ?? a capability to support the president better than Biden in televised debates among major vice president candidates, and a capability to be an eligible ruler. In particular, Palin will face many hurdles attacking her democratic rivals such as Clinton, Obama and Biden, to ensure that the Republican Party continues to take the helm of state affairs, because the Bush administration has made a number of mistakes.

If McCain and Palin declare a separation from the Bush administration, President Bush’s conservative supporters will flee. Additionally, if they advocate Bush’s failed policies, they will be unable to expand their political base.

On Nov. 4, who will American voters choose to be the country’s next president among the two pairs: Obama-Biden or McCain-Palin?

At present, both Obama and McCain enjoy nearly the same level of popularity. Who will be the final winner will depend on the election campaigns, on who releases policies designed to save the beleaguered American economy and help people live an abundant life.

The winner will be decided in the end depending on who conducts the most effective election campaign in the states such as Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Florida and New Mexico.

More importantly, is it possible that American voters will embrace an African-American commander-in-chief? Opinion polls reveal that 70 percent of voters and 50 percent of white voters said that they would embrace their country’s first African-American president.

In this regard, the situation is not so preferable to Obama. As the issue of race is a social taboo for Americans, no one openly speaks of it. It is nearly impossible to know the inner feeling of voters. The election results will be decided by a few very important votes ?? a thin coat of ice.

If McCain wins in the presidential election, there is a high possibility that public pledges by the Bush administration regarding the Korea-U.S. relations will be kept.

However, if Obama is elected, a considerable number of changes will be expected for the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement and how to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.

In particular, Obama revealed his objection to the Korus FTA, and ratification of the agreement seems to be more difficult than ever.

Obama objects to the ratification to get laborers’ votes, as labor unions refuse to accept the agreement. Biden has expertise on the Korean issues and now that he is the vice presidential candidate, we need to wait and see if Obama changes his perspective on these issues in the future.

*The writer is a professor of the Department of Political Science at Inha University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Kim Yong-ho
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