Young Republicans at the RNC support VP hopeful Palin and daughter

ST. PAUL, Minn. (University of Michigan) -- With the drama surrounding Hurricane Gustav's arrival barely subsided here at the Republican National Convention, a media storm blew into town with the news that vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin's daughter is pregnant.

Just as soon as the Alaska governor announced that her 17-year-old daughter, Bristol Palin, was five months pregnant, a nationwide news frenzy ensued, with rumors flying about the father of the child and also Sarah Palin's future as McCain's vice presidential nominee.

But coming to the defense of both mother and daughter are young Republicans in Saint Paul. Not only do they express their undivided support for the Palin family, but for the most part, they criticize the media for what they believe to be overblown coverage.

The support for Bristol Palin's decision to keep her child was unanimous among young Republicans at Xcel Energy Arena.

"They are embracing their daughter as she brings a new life into the world with enthusiasm, and that's the most important thing," said Jessica Colón, president of the Young Republican National Federation.

An enthusiastic politico from Lafayette, Colo., wearing buttons reading "Jihad This" and "Gun Control is hitting your target," 22-year-old Kimberly Peticolas said she supported Bristol Palin for sticking to her convictions and marrying the father of the child, 18-year-old Levi Johnston.

"She does have the family values, clearly, and she continues to have pro-life values like her mother does," Peticolas said. "And I really respect that she's sticking to those convictions even though she's really young and this is a hard thing to deal with when you're so young."

Peticolas also said she wasn't surprised at the media scrutiny of the Palin family considering the spotlight they're now in, but insisted that too much has been made of the announcement.

"I understand it's newsworthy, but at the same time I think the media has extended far too much," she said. "I guess it's just trying to make something of nothing."

Benito Segovia, a 26-year-old Texan wearing a cream colored cowboy hat, said he wasn't at all surprised at the media's coverage, saying that last week's Democratic National Convention and this week's RNC are both "heat weeks" for information on the two vice presidential hopefuls.

"We're horny for information about Biden and Palin and it's a big deal now," Segovia said. "But at the end of the day nobody is going to care. It's going to be the presidents that decide the election."

Michael Wooley, a 17-year-old from Cincinnati attending the convention with the Junior Statesmen Foundation, said he thought the media barrage had already blown over by Tuesday night.

"I guess it's something you kind of had to report, but at the same time, the fact that the news cycle is so fast now means that its pressed out of the public pretty fast," Wooley said.

Many young Republicans also didn't foresee her daughter's pregnancy interfering with Sarah Palin's responsibilities as McCain's running mate.

"I don't think it will affect her at all during the convention," said Victoria Rudd, a 17-year-old Miami native. "If anything, people might turn more to her now."

Segovia echoed Rudd's sentiments, quickly stating that "I personally don't think her daughter getting knocked up at 17 has any bearing on (Sarah Palin's) ability to do her job."

In fact, Segovia went so far as to suggest that Sarah Palin should use the media frenzy surrounding her daughter's pregnancy to increase her visibility on the national level.

"Strategically, I think she needs to use this heat week for her and get on as many programs as she can, just because she is so charismatic and likeable," he said. "If she can, like, get on Letterman's show, and then connect with people based on her likability, I think it would be a good move on her part."

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