Washington, Oct 1 : Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin has gone from being the darling of the GOP to a major question mark hanging over John McCain's candidacy at a critical moment in the presidential campaign in just a month, the Christian Science Monitor has said.
The appealing, reform-minded governor of Alaska, whose surprise selection as McCain's running mate electrified Republicans at their convention last month, now faces questions from prominent conservatives over whether she's up to being a potential president - especially at a time of international financial turmoil.
All eyes will be on Palin on Thursday night when she debates Democratic vice presidential nominee Joseph Biden, a veteran senator from Delaware, the CSM said.
One by one, conservative columnists such as David Frum, David Brooks, and Kathleen Parker have come out against Palin, calling her in effect not ready for prime time. Among voters, polls show that initial enthusiasm for Palin has slipped, though the overall race remains competitive.
Still, the willingness of conservative opinion leaders to state their reservations out loud is striking, and may indicate growing doubts among Republican rank and file.
"I think it does reflect thinking that is maybe said quietly," says GOP pollster Whit Ayres, who remains a fan of Palin. But all is not lost, he says.
Perhaps the most striking conservative defector is Parker, a syndicated columnist who was initially enthusiastic about Palin but now believes the Alaskan should bow out of the race "to save McCain, her party, and the country she loves."
The response to Parker's article was fierce. "I've gotten about 8,000 e-mails," she told the Monitor. "They range from angry to vicious to appreciative to 'Thank God somebody spoke up'."
Some readers are blaming her for handing the election to Democrat Barack Obama, and consider her a traitor.
There's virtually no chance that Palin will actually drop out, Parker says, noting that it would be assumed McCain had asked her to step aside.
The idea of dumping Palin is a nonstarter, says political scientist Jack Pitney of Claremont McKenna College in California. "If it ever happened, that would be the day McCain loses."