Topeka Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday helped lead the counter-offensive against Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin after the Alaskan governor used her new national standing to blast Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
In a telephone conference call with reporters, Sebelius and other Obama supporters said that Palin doesn't represent the interests of a majority of Americans, and in her brief public life has acted more like a Washington insider than a reformer.
Sebelius said that Palin, the surprise pick of McCain, "is on the radical fringe of the Republican Party on reproductive issues and privacy issues." Palin opposes abortion in cases of rape and incest and has opposed government financing of sex education programs.
Sebelius also took Palin to task for when she was mayor of Wasilla, a town of about 6,500 people, for hiring lobbyists to fetch federal tax dollars in the controversial budgetary earmark process. The town obtained 14 earmarks, totaling $27 million between 2000-2003, according to data compiled by Taxpayers for Common Sense.
"I don't know any mayor in any small town in Kansas who hires a lobbyist and goes after earmarks the way Sarah Palin did," Sebelius said. "That isn't a reform strategy. That is an inside Washington strategy," she said. Palin also supported the controversial $398 million "Bridge to Nowhere" when she ran for governor in 2006, although she has since said that she opposed it.
Sebelius was joined by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fla., and officials from the Obama campaign and Democratic Party to respond to Palin's speech Wednesday to the Republican National Convention.
"There isn't anything in the McCain-Palin agenda that is going to appeal to women," Wasserman-Schultz said.
Bob Beatty, a political science professor at Washburn University, said the Obama campaign's efforts are typical of modern-day politics. "You don't let any attack go unresponded to," Beatty said.
During her speech, Palin spent much of her time denigrating Obama's experience.
"I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities," she said, referring to Obama's past as a community organizer.
Sebelius said Palin's speech failed to provide details on what she and McCain want to do to help Americans.
"We heard a lot of partisan attacks and no real solutions," she said.
Palin has rallied the conservative wing of the Republican Party,
The Kansas Republican Assembly posted this about Palin: "A hockey mom, ice fisher, moose hunter, lifetime NRA member, pro-life as the day is long and has a husband who's a real middle class American worker who's a world class snow mobile racer. What more could you want in a VP?"