Out in the heartland, much of the news coverage of Republican presidential candidate John McCain's running mate Sarah Palin has focused on how she has thrilled evangelical voters. In other words -- surprise, surprise -- the focus is on the horse race and not on the substance. Since the pick was announced, there has been some coverage of the substance of Palin's beliefs and career, but a lot of it still focuses on the process that was involved in selecting Palin.
In the heartland and in Ohio specifically, newspapers have had predictable coverage. The Columbus Dispatch ran an article focusing on how Palin could draw evangelicals (and women) to vote for the Republicans in November.
Ohio Right to Life Executive Director Mike Gonidakis praised McCain's choice, saying Palin will energize social conservatives: "It's a definite game-changer, not only for the pro-life movement, but for the (GOP) base here in Ohio."
But Emily's List, which raises money for female Democratic candidates, said Palin won't hurt Obama among women.
That description of Emily's List should have noted that the group supports only candidates who are also support abortion rights. However, that almost goes without saying.
Some articles have focused on local Democratic Party responses to the Palin pick. Others have mentioned local Republicans enthusiasm. The enthusiasm typically focuses on evangelical voters. Other articles don't mention religious issues at all.
Since there is no real practical way for me to canvas all of the papers around the country, please send us local articles that discuss whether or not GOP officials believe Palin will help bring out more voters that otherwise might have stayed home. My hometown newspaper, The Indianapolis Star, wrote in an article Tuesday that Hoosier delegates at the Republican Convention were excited about Palin. The only suggestion of religious issues is the mention that Palin is pro-life and the fact her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is pregnant.
The Dayton Daily News writes little on Palin's personal views, but repeats the often repeated story about Palin's pro-life views and the way those views have influenced her personal actions:
Palin, 44, already has made history. She is both the first woman and the youngest person to hold the Alaska governorship. She is the first woman on a Republican presidential ticket, and if elected, would be the first female vice president. She is pro-life, and was celebrated in the anti-abortion movement when she refused to consider an abortion after learning Trig was likely to have Down syndrome.
People have marveled at how well she has juggled her public and private life as a mother of five children, including one with special needs.
Much more could be said about Palin's personal religious views and how they influence her public policies. From what I have seen most local newspapers have either relied heavily on wire services or other major newspaper's coverage of the Palin pick. Part of the challenge is that Palin's religious views are hardly typical, at least compared to what reporters are used to seeing in national politicians, and remain somewhat of a mystery.
I am hoping there are some local heartland-oriented newspapers out there with the resources to cover how the Palin pick is seen in their local community. And maybe they will mention religious issues.