While Hurricane Gustav on the country's Gulf Coast was the initial distraction that led to a truncated first day of the Republican National Convention, another storm was brewing over the disclosure that presidential candidate John McCain's running mate Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's 17-year-old unmarried daughter is five months pregnant.
Palin has been a staunch advocate for abstinence and vehemently working against sex education in schools and the distribution of contraceptives for sexually active teenagers.
To rebut Internet rumors that Palin's youngest son born in April was actually her daughter's and that she was covering this up by calling the toddler her own that was circulating in the blogosphere, Palin and her husband Todd, put out a statement saying that their 17-year-old daughter Bristol is in fact five months pregnant and that they were proud that she had decided to keep the child and would soon wed the child's father.
In their statement, the Palin's said, "We have been blessed with five wonderful children who we love with all our heart and mean everything to us."
"Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned. We are proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents."
They said, "As Bristol faces the responsibilities of adulthood, she knows she has our unconditional love and support. Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family."
"We ask the media to respect our daughter and Levi's privacy as has always been the tradition of children of candidates," the Palins' said in their statement.
McCain aides were reported as saying that McCain had been informed of Palin's daughter's pregnancy when she was being vetted for consideration for the vice presidential post while social conservatives were unison in lauding Bristol Palin's decision to keep the child instead of considering an abortion and this was expected to endear the vice presidential nominee to this group and may play to McCain's advantage.
Meanwhile, Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama on the campaign trail, when asked by a reporter for his reaction to a report that had quoted an unnamed McCain aide as saying that "The despicable rumors (about Palin and her daughter) have been spread by liberal blogs, some even with Barack Obama's name in them," angrily shot back, "I am offended by this statement. There is no evidence at all that any of this involves us."
"I hope I am as clear as I can be. So, in case I am not, let me repeat, we don't go after people's families. We don't get them involved in the politics. It's not appropriate and it's not relevant."
Obama asserted, "Our people were not involved in any way in this and they will not be. And, if I ever thought that there was somebody in my campaign that was involved in something like that, they'll be fired."
He said that he has always maintained that he believes "people's families are off limits, and people's children are specifically off limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Governor Palin's performance as a governor or a potential performance as a vice president."
"So, I would urge people to back off these kinds of stories," he said.
Obama said, "My mother had me when she was 18.And, how families deal with issues, you know, teenage children that shouldn't be the topic of our politics. And, I hope that anybody who's supporting me understands, that's off limits."