Washington, Sept.2 : With the American presidential polls a little over two months away, a key question dogging the minds of most Americans is how will women judge John McCain's running mate choice, given the many controversies surrounding her private life and her short time in politics.
Will women judge the choices Palin has made, both to keep working after delivering a baby with Down syndrome this year and to accept Sen. John McCain's offer to join the Republican ticket after learning of her daughter Bristol's pregnancy?
Will women, often the harshest critics of other women, especially in public life, doubt McCain for choosing a running mate whose life is so complex and full?
Or will some of the women who believed so fervently in Hillary Rodham Clinton embrace Palin's all-too-human story and back her historic candidacy, despite ideological differences?
Some Republicans privately say they are horrified that McCain has put his faith in a little-known governor with so many personal burdens, exposing the party to questions about how well Palin runs her household and how thoroughly she was vetted.
Democrats and Republicans alike said they had no idea what the political fallout would be, especially among women, and argued that it could cut both ways for McCain.
A backlash was likely, people on both sides said, should Democrats choose to attack Palin on her personal decisions or her family.
The Washington Post quotes Democratic strategist Jim Jordan as saying: "Who knows how this will bounce around politically? It's just a lot for voters to absorb, the thought of both the vice president and her daughter with infants in the Naval Observatory."
On the other hand, at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, some evangelical Christians said they were not put off by the news that that Palin is looking after her daughter's child.
Cathie Adams, president of the Texas Eagle Forum, said, "This is a family that keeps dealing with challenges, and they keep doing the right thing." Humans are "fallen beings," Adams adds.
Jessica Echard, spokeswoman for the Republican National Coalition for Life, said many female voters would be able to relate to a woman whose family is dealing with a teen pregnancy.
"Everybody, especially women as well as men, knows people who have been in this situation before. It makes their family real, which is what we've seen from Day One. It will resonate with women voters because they'll say, 'That happened to me. That happened to someone down the street," says Echard.
Democratic officials and operatives are wary of criticizing the first woman to run on a major party ticket since Geraldine Ferraro, and are reportedly more uncertain about how to approach an opponent whose most intimate family issues had suddenly been exposed, especially after Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, demanded that his staff and reporters back away from the Palin family.
All sides agreed on one point: After upending the gender politics of the campaign with his decision to pick Palin, McCain was forging into uncharted territory in his bid for female voters.
Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, an outspoken Clinton advocate who is now a vocal Obama supporter, said the pregnancy of Palin's daughter "is not in the least bit relevant."
"Let me tell you, I have never seen a more visceral reaction to a vice presidential selection, ever, and it's not just women -- it's men and dads with young kids; that's a lot of my district. It's unsolicited. There are men telling me, 'I am insulted for women.' She would turn the clock back," Wasserman Schultz said.