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Obama, Clinton, PalinMaking History in Election 2008$
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Liette Gidlow

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036606

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036606.001.0001

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Defining a Maverick

Defining a Maverick

Putting Palin in the Context of Western Women’s Political History

(p.94) Chapter 7 Defining a Maverick
Obama, Clinton, Palin

Melanie Gustafson

University of Illinois Press

This chapter assesses the Palin campaign as an exercise in political storytelling. In this media-saturated age in which party labels may not tell us much about a candidate, personal biography has become a key way that the public comes to “know” a candidate. The chapter argues that the most effective storytelling for the Palin candidacy focused on her background as a westerner. By highlighting Palin's big-game hunting on the Alaskan frontier and her “maverick” record of reform in the state house, Republican operatives tried to embed Palin in a long line of stories of presidential candidates and the American West. Attentive as they were to the political possibilities of Palin's identity as a westerner, the chapter shows that the Republican campaign never fully dealt with her identity as a western woman, despite the rich history of women's political advancement in the West.

Keywords:   Sarah Palin, political storytelling, big-game hunting, westerner, western women, political advancement, American West

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