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McCain Chooses
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for V.P.

McCain Chooses
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for V.P.


John McCain tapped Alaska governor Sarah Palin, a conservative who shares his maverick streak, to be the Republican vice-presidential candidate on Friday in a startling selection on the eve of the Republican National Convention.

Hillary Clinton's historic race for the White House may have ended earlier this week when she officially released her delegates and endorsed Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential nominee. But a woman still has a shot at the White House in November -- this time on the Republican ticket.

Shocking many in his own party and passing over far better-known names, Republican presidential nominee John McCain on Friday selected 44-year-old Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate.

Palin has been governor of Alaska for just two years, and her tendency to clash with members of her own party and act as something of a maverick politician makes her a smart partner in McCain's bid for the White House, political pundits are suggesting.

Palin was elected governor in 2006 after defeating incumbent Frank Murkowski in the Republican primary and former Democratic governor Tony Knowles in the general election. Palin was the youngest governor in Alaskan history, taking the office at 42. She was also the first woman to be elected governor of the state.

Before her election as governor, Palin served two terms on the Wasilla city council from 1992 to 1996 before moving on to serve as mayor from 1996 to 2002. Palin failed to secure enough votes in 2002 to win a bid for lieutenant governor. Governor Murkowski appointed Palin as ethics commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in 2003. However, Palin resigned from the position in protest the following year. She claimed her complaints of legal violations and conflicts of interest were ignored by fellow Alaskan Republican leaders, whom she accused of suffering from a "lack of ethics."

Born in Idaho, where she lived briefly before moving to Alaska, Palin is an avid outdoorswoman and a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, and she was once the first runner-up in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant.

Patrick Sammon of the Log Cabin Republicans lauded McCain's pick of Palin. "Alaska governor Sarah Palin can help Senator McCain appeal to independent voters and win this election," Sammon said in a press release. "She's a mainstream Republican who will unite the party and serve John McCain well as vice president. Governor Palin is an inclusive Republican who will help Senator McCain appeal to gay and lesbian voters."

Many would argue with that assertion.

Palin is often profiled as a strong conservative who is rabidly anti-abortion and opposes same-sex marriage equality, saying she supports the Alaska state constitutional ban on gay marriage that was passed in 1998.

Palin claims she has "gay friends" and is open to gay and lesbian concerns about discrimination. As governor, she signed into law a state supreme court-ordered measure to grant same-sex partner benefits. However, she publicly stated that she disagreed with the court ruling and supported a public vote on whether to amend the constitution to address the issue.

"We believe we have no more judicial options to pursue," Palin was quoted as saying by the Anchorage Daily News on December 21, 2006. "So we may disagree with the foundation there, the rationale behind the ruling, but our responsibility is to proceed forward with the law and abide by the constitution."

McCain's pick of Palin for his running mate was a surprising choice to political pundits and many in the Republican Party. In making his selection, McCain passed over a string of names he had been vetting for the slot for months, including Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who himself made a run for the Republican nomination. McCain was expected to choose his ticket mate from among more well-known names as Romney, Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, U.S. senator Joseph Lieberman, and former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge.

In fact, the selection of Palin came as such a surprise to some in the party, even as she arrived in Ohio last night for Friday's announcement, McCain staffers told the press many believed she was still at home in Alaska.

As one of the main points of attack from McCain against Obama has been the Illinois senator's inexperience in national and world politics, choosing Palin seems even odder to some. Palin can be viewed as being far more inexperienced on the national and world stage than Obama. Yet, if McCain has chosen her as his running mate, it says to the public that he believes she has the experience to lead the country if necessary -- which goes against McCain's attacks on Obama's ability to lead due to his inexperience. (The Advocate; reporting by Julie Bolcer and Ross Von Metzke)

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