September 3, 2008
"I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities."
Gov. Sarah Palin at the Republican National Convention
Sarah Palin was a virtual unknown outside the Last Frontier State until she was named to the Republican ticket in late August but she rocketed onto the political scene faster than anyone since...well, since Barack Obama. Americans got a brief glimpse of her folksy charm when McCain introduced her on a Friday morning in Dayton, Ohio. But her real entry onto the national stage and altar of American pop culture was her 40-minute convention acceptance speech a week later. Sassy, aggressive, plainspoken and full of biting wit, her address sent a high-voltage current through the party faithful and put Obama on notice that she would not flinch from attacking him head-on. Palin enjoyed a honeymoon after the speech, drawing huge crowds and helping to propel McCain to a small lead in many polls. But beyond the ranks of the most devout her glow soon faded, thanks to high-profile interview flubs and media scrutiny that cast doubt on her boasts of reform and competent management.