'Hillary's women' reject McCain's VP choice

America's largest women's rights organisation delivered a snub to Sarah Palin's history-making candidacy yesterday by endorsing Barack Obama and Joe Biden's bid for power.

The National Organisation for Women (NOW) is 500,000 strong and hugely influential. The feminist organisation almost never supports a presidential candidate, but the Alaska governor's Christian fundamentalist faith and her opposition to abortion rights has forced its hand.

Other women's rights organisations are also campaigning against Governor Palin, pushed along by a spontaneous anti-Palin movement among women.

In Alaska at the weekend, a Welcome Home rally for Mrs Palin was dwarfed by a demonstration organised by Alaska Women Reject Palin, which was held on the lawn of a downtown Anchorage library.

After triggering a huge surge of enthusiasm for John McCain's campaign and sending him into the lead over Barack Obama, Mrs Palin has come under intense scrutiny from the national media. The investigation known as "Troopergate" threatens to expose her as a bullying governor who fired Alaska's de facto police chief for family rather than professional reasons.

The controversy moved up a notch yesterday when Mrs Palin's campaign team announced her refusal to co-operate with the Troopergate investigation because it was "tainted" by politics.

NOW's decision to back Senator Obama when a woman is within striking distance of becoming elected is a bold step for the group and a setback for John McCain's hopes of luring the millions of women who supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries.

"The addition of Sarah Palin gave us a new sense of urgency," Kim Gandy, the head of NOW, told National Public Radio. "She is being portrayed as a supporter of women's rights... as a feminist when in fact her positions on so many of the issues are really anathema to ours.

"A lot of women think it's a great thing for a woman to be running for vice-president," she continued, "but they are completely dismayed when they find out her positions. The idea that she opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest – those kinds of positions are completely out of step with American women and once they find out about those positions, they get a little less excited."

Last week, Alaska legislators ordered Mrs Palin's husband, Todd, as well as her chief of staff and deputy chief of staff to answer questions at the Troopergate inquiry. Several years ago, Governor Palin's sister went through a custody battle with her ex-husband Trooper Mike Wooten. Efforts to sack Trooper Wooten failed and Governor Palin sacked the safety director Walt Monegan instead. Mrs Palin's refusal to co-operate with the panel could raise more doubts her suitability as a national candidate in the minds of voters.

The governor's creationist beliefs have also emerged as a hurdle. In Wasilla, where she cut her teeth as a Republican mayor, the Rev Howard Bess, a Baptist minister and author of the book Pastor, I am Gay, says his work was on then Mayor Palin's "hit list" for removal from the town's library. "People in city government have confirmed to me what Sarah was trying to do," he said.

Another Wasilla resident, Phil Munger, a music composer and teacher, says she pushed an evangelical agenda in the town. "She wanted to get people who believed in creationism on the [school] board. I bumped into her after my band played at a graduation ceremony at the Assembly of God [a church]. I said, 'Sarah, how can you believe in creationism – your father's a science teacher.' And she said, 'We don't have to agree on everything.' I pushed her on the earth's creation, whether it was really less than 7,000 years old and whether dinosaurs and humans walked the earth at the same time. And she said yes, she'd seen images somewhere of dinosaur fossils with human footprints in them."

Mr Munger also asked Mrs Palin if she believed in the End of Days, the doomsday scenario when the Messiah will return. "She looked in my eyes and said, 'Yes, I think I will see Jesus come back to earth in my lifetime'."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Case Handler

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Case Handler is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Sales Apprentice

£15000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £20,000 - £60,000

£20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Team Leader

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence