Monday, September 1, 2008

Sarah Palin confirms daughter, 17, is pregnant

JOHN McCain's vice-presidential pick Sarah Palin has revealed that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is pregnant, confirming some of the rumours that had been sweeping across the web.

The surprise choice of Ms Palin as Senator McCain's running mate last week electrified the Republican Party's social conservative base, in particular evangelical Christians who had been reluctant to back him.
Today, Ms Palin, a 44-year-old mother of five and an outspoken opponent of abortion, shook up the US presidential election campaign again by revealing that her teenage daughter was pregnant and planning to marry the baby's father.

"Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned,'' she said.

"We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents.  Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realise very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family."

The McCain campaign said the revelation was an attempt to hit back at unsourced rumours swirling around liberal blogs that Ms Palin's daughter was the mother of the Alaska governor's fifth child, Trig. 
An unnamed McCain campaign aide has been quoted as condemning the blogs for repeating the rumours and said some postings contained Democratic candidate Barack Obama's name.
Senator Obama quickly returned fire. "I am offended by that statement, there is no evidence at all that any of this involved us," he said. "We don't go after people's families."
Ms Palin asked for the media to respect her daughter's privacy.  Senator Obama, whose mother was 18 when she gave birth to him, urged reporters and bloggers to "back off"

McCain knew

A McCain campaign official said on condition of anonymity that the Arizona senator knew about the condition of Ms Palin's daughter, who is reportedly five months into the pregnancy, when he asked her to be his vice-presidential nominee last week.

Ms Palin, the governor of Alaska, was at the Republican national convention in St Paul but had no public engagements scheduled.  The convention's schedule has been thrown into doubt by Hurricane Gustav's battering of New Orleans.

Senator McCain earlier flew into Philadelphia, as he monitored the fallout from Gustav, which was hammering the Louisiana coast and prompted the Republicans to severely curtail the convention's opening day.

Convention delegates meanwhile were preparing to meet, overshadowed by Gustav and ominous memories of Hurricane Katrina, the botched handling of which three years ago hammered the Republican brand.

US President George W. Bush had been due to make a speech today, but it has been cancelled so that he can deal with the Gustav emergency.  But given Mr Bush's personal handling of Katrina saw his approval rating plummet, his appearance could have done more harm than good to Senator McCain anyway.

The convention will be confined to a two-hour session today focused on the legal procedures needed to nominate presidential and vice-presidential candidates.  With most political rhetoric barred, First Lady Laura Bush will unveil video appearances from several of the governors in Gulf coast states, after the convention opens.

Senator McCain's wife Cindy will then ask delegates for help and donations for the relief efforts once the storm has passed.

The McCain campaign has downplayed suggestions Senator McCain could deliver his acceptance speech on Friday (Australian time) by satellite from the disaster zone, saying there were no such plans at this point.


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