McCain Reaches Far Afield for His Running Mate

By Susan Jones | August 29, 2008 | 11:29 AM EDT

Alaska's governor step into a media maelstrom.

( - Talk about a Washington outsider: Alaska is about as far from Washington as a politician can get. And that’s where Sen. John McCain’s running mate is from.
Sarah Palin, 44, a mother of five, a conservative Republican who is two years into her first term as Alaska’s governor -- will be John McCain’s running mate, Fox News confirmed Friday morning -- about an hour before McCain appears with his running mate in Dayton, Ohio.
“Thank you John McCain for handing Obama the election!!” wrote one person in the Democrat Underground Web site’s “comments” section.
“I can't wait for Tina Fay's impression of her,” wrote another Democrat, referring to Saturday Night Live actress.
Does McCain really think women are that stupid? Asked another (presumed) liberal.
Comments on the conservative Free Republic web site were more complimentary:
“Excellent choice,” said one. “Good pick,” said another. “Pro-life, home-schooling mother of five, life-time NRA member, fiscally conservative. What's not to like !!!!!,” said a third Freeper. (A few people posting on the Free Republic expressed reservations about Palin’s relative inexperience.)
At the very least, McCain’s pick has diverted media attention away from Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign, just as he was enjoying a post-convention boost in the polls.
David Keene, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, called the selection of Palin “great news for conservatives, for the party and for the country.”
Said Keene, “Her dedication to principle, her courage both before and after her election as Governor of Alaska and her personal qualities make her a perfect choice for Vice President.  I predict any conservatives who have been lukewarm thus far in their support of the McCain candidacy will work their hearts out between now and November for the McCain-Palin ticket."
Conservative Republican Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) called Palin an “exciting choice.”
"She completes a strong ticket that will bring a real record of change and reform to Washington,” DeMint said. "Governor Palin is a strong conservative with executive experience who has cut wasteful spending, opposed earmarks and shown courage in taking on corruption in her own party. She is a strong defender of traditional family values, with an unquestioned commitment to protect life. Governor Palin knows we must aggressively pursue American energy sources like offshore drilling to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”
Who is she?
Palin was born Feb. 11, 1964, in Idaho, but her parents moved to Alaska shortly after her birth to teach. She received a bachelor of science degree in communications-journalism from the University of Idaho in 1987.
The Palins have five children: Track, 19; Bristol 17; Willow 14; Piper, 7, and Trig, who was born in April with Down syndrome. Track enlisted in the Army in 2007 on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and has been assigned to Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks.

In just two years, Palin has moved from suburban hockey mom and small-town mayor to governor and vice presidential contender, the Associated Press reported.
She is the first woman to appear on a Republican presidential ticket. She is Alaska’s first female governor, and she ran on an anti-corruption, ethics platform.
During her first year in office, Palin distanced herself from the powerful old guard of the state Republican Party, even calling on Sen. Ted Stevens to explain to Alaskans why federal authorities were investigating him, the Associated Press reported.
However, the Alaska Legislature last month voted to hire an independent investigator to look into allegations that Palin abused her office by trying to get her former brother-in-law fired from his job as an Alaska state trooper.
Palin has said she welcomes the investigation: "Hold me accountable," she said. She denies allegations that she pulled strings in an attempt to get her sister's ex-husband fired.
She also successfully took on the oil industry, leading to a tax increase on oil company profits that has swelled the state's treasury.

Bumper stickers and blogs have proclaimed Alaska and Palin: "Coldest State, Hottest Governor." Last year, the former beauty queen posed for a photo shoot in Vogue, the Associated Press reported.

She lives in Wasilla, a town of 6,500 about 30 miles north of Anchorage, with her husband, Todd, a North Slope oil worker who competes in the Iron Dog, a 1,900-mile snowmobile race. He is part Yup'ik Eskimo.

Her previous political experience consisted of terms as Wasilla's mayor and councilwoman and a stint as head of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

She is solidly pro-life, reports say, and is expected to have strong appeal to social conservatives.
(This report includes information straight from the Associated Press.)