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DENVER - John McCain tapped little-known Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential running mate on Friday in a startling selection on the eve of the Republican National Convention.
Two senior campaign officials disclosed McCain's decision a few hours before the Republican presidential nominee-to-be and his newly-minted running mate appeared at a rally in swing-state Ohio.
Palin, like McCain, is a conservative with a maverick streak who has shown a willingness to clash with others in her own party. A self-styled hockey mom and political reformer, she has been governor of her state less than two years.
Palin's selection shocked numerous Republican officials.
At 44, Palin is a generation younger that Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, who is Barack Obama's running mate on the Democratic ticket.
She is three years Obama's junior, as well — and McCain has made much in recent weeks of Obama's relative lack of experience in foreign policy and defense matters.
In making his pick, McCain passed over several more prominent prospects who had figured in speculation for months — Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge among them.
Palin flew overnight to an airport in Ohio near Dayton, and even as she awaited her formal introduction, some aides said they had believed she was at home in Alaska.
She is a former mayor of Wasilla who became governor of her state in December, 2006 after ousting a governor of her own party in a primary and then dispatching a former governor in the general election.
More recently, she has come under the scrutiny of an investigation by the Republican-controlled legislature into the possibility that she ordered the dismissal of Alaska's public safety commissioner because he would not fire her former brother-in-law as a state trooper.
The timing of McCain's selection appeared designed to limit any political gain Obama yields from his own convention, which ended Thursday night with his nominating acceptance speech before an estimated 84,000 in Invesco Field in Colorado.
Public opinion polls show a close race between Obama and McCain, and with scarcely two months remaining until the election, neither contender can allow the other to jump out to a big post-convention lead.
McCain has had months to consider his choice, and has made it clear to reporters that one of his overriding goals was to avoid a situation like the one in 1988, when Dan Quayle was thrown into a national campaign with little preparation.
Palin has a long history of run-ins with the Alaska GOP hierarchy, giving her genuine maverick status and reformer credentials that could complement McCain's image.
Two years ago, she ousted the state's Republican incumbent governor, Frank Murkowski in the primary, despite having little money and little establishment backing.
She has also distanced herself from two senior Republican office-holders, sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don young. Both men are under federal corruption investigations.
She had earned stripes — and enmity — after Murkowski made her head of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. From that post, she exposed ethical violations by the state GOP chairman, also a fellow commissioner.
She and her husband Todd Palin, have five children. The latest, a baby, was born with Down syndrome.
“Governor Palin has challenged the influence of the big oil companies while fighting for the development of new energy resources. She leads a state that matters to every one of us,” the statement said. “In Alaska, Governor Palin challenged a corrupt system and passed a landmark ethics reform bill. She has actually used her veto and cut budgetary spending. She put a stop to the ‘bridge to nowhere’ that would have cost taxpayers $400 million dollars.”
Informed of the selection, a senior official with Barack Obama campaign questioned Palin’s executive experience,
“After making experience a central issue of the race, McCain picks, on his 72nd birthday, a peron who 3 years ago was the part-time mayor of a city in Alaska with a population of about 8,000 - that’s 1/20th the size of Obama’s state Senate district. That virtually takes the experience argument off the table. She’s also complimented Obama’s energy plan and is under investigation in her own state for pressuring the firing of a relative from the state safety department,” the official said.
Earlier this month, the Anchorage Daily News reported that Palin has been under investigation after she her chief of staff, other aides and her husband had contacted the Public Safety Department about firing Palin’s brother-in-law, a state trooper who was in a custody battle with Palin’s sister. Palin said she did not know about the phone calls before they were made, but acknowledged that “such pressure could have been perceived to exist.”
Born in Idaho, Palin moved to Alaska with her parents, to Charles and Sally Heath, when she was 3 months old.
She grew up in Wasilla, just outside of Anchorage, and played on the Wasilla state championship girls’ basketball team. She was crowned Miss Wasilla in 1984 and was a runner-up in the Miss Alaska pageant.
Palin studied journalism and political science at the University of Idaho and graduated in 1987. She eloped with her high school boyfriend, Todd Palin, in 1988 to save money on an expensive wedding. She helped out in her husband’s family commercial fishing business and appeared occasionally as a television sportscaster.
Palin won a seat on the Wasilla City Council in 1992 as a new face and a new voice, and by opposing tax increases. Four years later she was elected mayor at 32 by knocking off a three-term incumbent. At the end of her second term, party leaders encouraged her to enter the 2002 race for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. Against veteran legislators with far more experience, Palin finished second by fewer than 2,000 votes, making a name for herself in statewide politics. She was elected Alaska’s youngest and first woman governor in 2006.
Sarah and Todd Palin have five children: boys Track, 19, and Trig, 4 months, and daughters Bristol, 17, Willow, 13, and Piper, 7. Track Palin joined the Army last September and will deploy to Iraq on Sept. 11. Palin had kept her pregnancy with Trig a secret as she worked in the governor’s mansion, confirming only weeks before the birth that she was going to have a son who she knew would have Down syndrome. She returned to work in April three days after giving birth.
Palin will be the second female vice presidential candidate from a major political party. The first was New York Rep. Geraldine Ferrarro, who was Walter Mondale’s Democratic running mate in 1984
Last edited by runawayhorses on Fri Aug 29, 2008 2:38 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added a pic at rosco's request)