Mantecan was early champion for Palin
Frank Aquila may have had a hand in shaping history.
As a chairman of the San Joaquin County John McCain for President Campaign – the Manteca resident was also in charge of organizing the south San Joaquin County Republicans – he lobbied for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for the Vice Presidential nomination back in April.
“That was before anyone really heard of her,” said Aquila on Monday.
According to http://www.newsmax.com – the nation’s leading independent news site for focusing on breaking news and politics – Palin’s name wasn’t even on the radar among the 24 possible running mates listed for McCain back then.
Included were Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
“We needed someone who could bring some excitement back to the party,” Aquila said.
He was concerned about Democrat Barack Obama’s rock star image. But Palin on the ticket could provide a similar-type boost for the Republicans, Aquila believed.
“McCain’s campaign needed a young face,” he said.
Aquila initially heard about the highly-touted Palin on a radio program and conducted his own research. In particular, he liked what Palin brought to the table – intelligence, good looks, and a strong set of moral and family values.
“She’s a rising star,” said Aquila, pointing out her fast climb from coaching youth sports to serving on the city council, mayor and governor.
Starting on April 21, he sent the first of his five e-mails to his regional campaign chairman Brian Forrest and state co-chair Bob Pacheco on Palin.
“I would like to make a brief case for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Her nomination for Vice President would be the worse news for Democrats,” Aquila wrote.
After Obama selected Joe Biden as his running mate, Aquila pushed up his lobbying efforts on behalf of the Alaska governor.
“It is even more essential John McCain pick Sarah Palin for Vice President,” he said in his Aug. 21 e-mail.
A few days later, Aquila received a response from Pacheco.
“Frank, I have previously passed on your comment (about Palin for VP). They are aware of your position on the issue,” Pacheco said in his e-mail dated Aug. 25.
By then, Palin was beginning to receive national recognition. In fact, a few articles mentioned her as a possible VP candidacy, including one entitled, “Why Sarah Palin?”
Aquila had never met Pacheco, and was surprised to receive a telephone call from the state co-chairman for the Republican Party.
“He sent his congratulations and said, ‘you got your girl,'” recalled Aquila. “I still get goose bumps (thinking back on that moment).”
Pacheco, who served with McCain in the U.S. Navy and Vietnam, had been forwarding all of Aquila’s e-mails directly to the top advisors.
They were the ones who helped pick Palin.
However, several news sources had linked Joe Lieberman, a former Democrat turned third party, as McCain’s first choice.
Aquila said Palin brought some excitement to the GOP.
Some, including Michael Reagan, the former president’s son, have compared her to Ronald Reagan.
“She’s the (presidential) front-runner for 2012,” said Aquila, who has spearheaded the South San Joaquin County Republicans since its founding in 2005.
Currently, his chapter has the support of about 1,300 members from Manteca, Lathrop, Tracy, Ripon, and Escalon.
Did Aquila’s e-mails make a difference?
“While I’m not 100 percent certain, I would like to think so,” he said.
Second Printed Newspaper Article:
Manteca Republican may have helped put Sarah Palin on the ballot
By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Contra Costa Times
Updated: 01/03/2009 09:54:07 PM PST
For proof that one man can alter the course of history — and simultaneously drive Saturday Night Live’s ratings — look no further than Manteca and Frank Aquila, president of the South San Joaquin Republicans.
Aquila was one of the earliest voices calling for the selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as John McCain’s vice presidential running mate.
In late April, long before Palin became a household name and the target of late-night comedians, Aquila began sending e-mails to McCain’s campaign, espousing her appeal to women and the party’s disaffected socially conservative base.
Aquila says he spotted Palin’s name on an early poll of veep possibilities and was impressed at her relatively high name ID given her lack of name recognition outside Alaska.
“I saw her as someone who could bring people who were not excited about John McCain, especially women,” Aquila said. “Palin had a fresh face. She is someone who has the energy to bring out the younger voters and people who might not have had interest in the ticket otherwise.”
It’s unclear how much influence, if any, those e-mails had on McCain’s decision.
But it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
Aquila and McCain know each other — they served in the Navy together.
And a California McCain campaign official confirmed that Aquila’s e-mails were forwarded to the GOP nominee’s advisers.
Various accounts reported that the Arizona senator initially preferred a more conventional, male running mate until his advisers convinced him of Palin’s merits.
“I’m not sure what impact the e-mails had on (McCain’s) actual decision, but all of Frank’s e-mails were forwarded on to the appropriate regional people in the state,” said McCain campaign staffer Brian Forrest. “I know that Frank was one of the only people early on to call for Gov. Palin to be Senator McCain’s running mate before most of the country knew who she was.”
Then one morning in August, just as the selection of Palin hit the news, Aquila received a phone call from another California McCain campaign official.
“He said to me, ‘Congratulations! You got your girl!'” Aquila recalled. “I got goose bumps!”
Does Aquila hope to see Palin’s name on the ballot again?