[Updated below]

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, arguably the most powerful woman in the Republican party, has offered an underwhelming endorsement of Gov. Sarah Palin.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison contrasted the full-throated defense of Sarah Palin by some in her party and lowered the bar Wednesday by offering her own statesman-like, cautious praise for the vice presidential nominee.

Asked if Ms. Palin is ready to be vice president, Ms. Hutchison said that “she offers a lot to the ticket. We’ll see in the coming weeks how she does, where she goes. And I think she’s going to do fine.”

Ms. Hutchison said that Ms. Palin brings vitality to the ticket and a Washington outsider’s ability to shake things up – but that she will have a lot to learn.

“There’s no question that she’s young, a new governor. And does she have the same experience as John McCain or Joe Biden? No,” Ms. Hutchison said.


Sen. Hutchison herself was once considered a potential running mate for Sen. McCain, and the decision to place Gov. Palin on the ticket instead has a left a lot of observers scratching their heads.

And of course, right on cue, the Republicans have nixed a scheduled speech from Sen. Hutchison at this week’s national convention.

Texas’ senior senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison, was scheduled to speak at the Republican convention tonight, and she arrived in St. Paul last night in anticipation of that. But McCain campaign manager Rick Davis just ran through the updated program in a conference call with reporters, and she wasn’t on it.

“Sen. Hutchison offered to give up her speaking slot if need be,” said Hutchison spokesman Matt Mackowiak. “We understand that the program is in flux. Sen. Hutchison will proceed with a rehearsal from the podium because the program has not been finalized.”

To say that Gov. Palin had a large task ahead of her last night is possibly the understatement of the year.  Is there anyone really wondering why someone wouldn’t want one of the most accomplished female Republican politicians in history sharing her stage?

[Update:]  The already awkward situation between Sen. Hutchison and her fellow Republicans was taken up a couple notches yesterday when Mike Murphy and Peggy Noonan were caught on mic calling the pick of Palin over Hutchison “insulting.”  These two aren’t small-bit players in the Republican party–they represent what Republicans at the convention and on the floor probably feel themselves.  These are two pundits who are as attuned to the goings on of the party as anyone can possibly be.

While Sen. Hutchison is out on talk show duty this morning (she’s on MSNBC as I write this), the AP reports that her speech at the RNC is still in limbo.  I’d bet my money that the GOP has room for only one mistress this week.




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