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Fred Barnes recalls meeting Sarah Palin: “She was pretty impressive.”

Posted by Dr. Fay on April 15, 2013

Video retrieved from CSPAN

Fred Barnes, sat down last month with C-SPAN for a Q & A session.  In a very interesting interview, he talked about his career, his conversion as a Christian, Rupert Murdoch, and much more.  The synopsis beside the video in the C-SPAN video library reads:

Fred Barnes discussed the significance of the Weekly Standard in the political community, including its role in discovering Sarah Palin in 2007. He reflected on his conservative upbringing in Arlington, Virginia, noting the changes he experienced in his life after he became a born-again Christian. He recalled his early days on television, including his participation as a panelist in the first 1984 presidential debate and how it led him to a position on “The McLaughlin Group.” He talked about his time with New Republic Magazine and why he felt the need to provide a conservative alternative. He praised syndicated columnist Robert Novak and described Mr. Novak’s memoir, The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years Reporting in Washington as the best book ever written about politics.

At about 24:09 minutes into the video, the interviewer showed the ad for the Weekly Standard’s Alaska cruise in June of 2007.  He asked, “What was the impact of that cruise on American politics?”

Fred Barnes responded:

“Well, I think the discovery of Sarah Palin was one thing.  We on the cruise went up there in the in   southern –  we were not up around Anchorage in the well part of Alaska, but we were there, went to Juneau, went to Ketchikan, went to Sitka, and so on. But in Juneau we were invited by the governor to come and have lunch at her house –   at the Governor’s mansion.  And I found out later this came about because the woman who was the head of the Alaska Federation or Republican Women, or whatever the title is, had told the governor’s office that we were coming.  And at first she was ignored, and she told them again, and we finally, we wound up getting this invitation.  I’m not sure Sarah Palin was a Weekly Standard reader. But any case, we were invited, and we went to her house – myself, my wife, and my sister was along on the cruise.  She came.  Bill Kristol and one of his daughters and Mike Gershon, one of the speakers who was speaking at it, the former Bush speechwriter, and now columnist, he came, and we all had lunch.  one of the people he came and we all had lunch.  I sat right next to her.  And I’ll have to say, she was pretty impressive, in particular on the issues that she knew a lot about, which in Alaska are energy and the environment.   And so when I got back after that, I decided I’d write a story about her.   I mean I’d heard a little about her – you’re not going to hear much about Alaska politics down here, for Heaven sakes.   But that she had run against the incumbent governor, a Republican, and had defeated him in the primary and then won the election in 2006, which was not a good Republican year, but Alaska’s a pretty Republican state, and she won.  So there she was in 2007.  So I came back, I talked to her, I interviewed a bunch of people by phone, and talked to her twice.  I interviewed her twice on the phone and wrote a piece for the Weekly Standard about Sarah Palin.  It was only the first piece written about her by a national magazine in the United States.  I don’t go around bragging that I discovered her, but I think she was going to somehow emerge anyway, but I’m glad I was first.”

Interviewer:  “When did you know that that column might have had an impact that led eventually to John McCain choosing her as Vice President?”

Barnes:  “That’s when I did, when she was under – when her name started popping up.”

Interviewer:  “Who had seen it that you know?  Did you ever find out directly what person saw that and then reacted that strongly to it? “

Barnes:  “Well, there was one person who saw it and reacted strongly – was Bill Kristol, and he started talking her up.  This was back in the summer of 2008 when John McCain obviously had to pick a running mate. And Bill talked about her a lot on television.  It was on FOX News Sunday and other shows, and that got some attention.  And so I don’t recall any immediate reaction when this article came out – it must have been the late summer or early fall of 2007.”


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