McCain Names Alaska Gov. Palin as Running Mate
Friday, August 29, 2008

DAYTON, Ohio — Injecting a new twist into the presidential race, John McCain on Friday named Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate, introducing the 44-year old at a rally that also celebrated the Republican presidential candidate’s 72nd birthday.
“My friends and fellow Americans, I am very pleased and very privileged to introduce to you the next vice president of the United States, Governor Sarah Palin of the great state of Alaska,” McCain told a capacity crowd of 12,000 at the Nutter Center.
Describing Palin as someone with “grit and integrity and devotion to the common good that is exactly what we need in Washington today,” McCain said Palin “knows where she comes from and she knows who she works for. She stands up for what is right and she doesn’t tell anyone to sit down. She’s fought oil companies and party bosses and do-nothing bureaucrats and anyone who puts their interests before the people they serve.”
Palin brings to the Republican ticket a resume that challenges conventional wisdom while it plays into the party’s conservative base. Palin is, among other things, a former beauty queen, a mother of five, an abortion opponent, a union member, hockey player and moose hunter. She is said to be a reformer who takes pride in standing up to the “good ol’ boy network,” and she has served as the top ethics watchdog in her state.
“I would be honored to serve next to the next president of the United States,” Palin said after joining McCain, his wife Cindy and daughter Meghan on stage. “To be chosen is a great challenge. I know that it will demand everything I have to give and I promise nothing less.”
Informed of the selection, a Barack Obama spokesman questioned Palin’s experience.
“Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency. Governor Palin shares John McCain’s commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush’s failed economic policies — that’s not the change we need, it’s just more of the same,” said spokesman Bill Burton.
Offering up her biographical details to an audience unfamiliar with her background, Palin introduced her husband Todd, a production operator in the oil fields on Alaska’s North Slope and a “world champion snow machine racer” with whom she was celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary on Friday. She introduced her five children, four of whom were with her on Friday. The eldest, a son, signed up for the Army last Sept. 11 and is headed to Iraq next month.
“I had promised Todd a little surprise for the anniversary present, and hopefully he knows that I did deliver,” Palin said.
McCain’s choice of a woman to be his running mate comes during the week of the 88th anniversary of women earning the right to vote. Palin noted that she was following in the footsteps of former New York Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, who was Walter Mondale’s running mate in 1984, and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who Palin noted had made “18 million cracks” in the glass ceiling in her presidential bid this year.
“It turns out that women in America aren’t finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all,” Palin said to rousing applause.
Palin, who was also appointed as Alaska’s ethics commissioner and chairwoman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said she wanted to challenge the status quo and serve the common good.
“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not why a ship is built. Politics isn’t just a game of competing interests and clashing parties. The people of America expect us to seek public office and to serve for the right reasons,” she said, adding that “no leader in America has shown these qualities so clearly or present so clear a threat to business as usual in Washington as Senator John S. McCain.”
“This is a moment when principles and political independence matter a lot more than just the party line. And this is a man who has always been there to serve his country, not just his party. And this is a moment that requires resolve and toughness, and strength of heart in the American president. And my running mate is a man who has shown those qualities in the darkest of places, and in the service of his country,” she said.
Palin is considered a rising star in the Republican Party. She is the state’s first female governor, and at 44 is its youngest chief executive.
The choice of Palin was kept under such tight wraps that even Palin’s mother said Friday morning that she had not yet heard from her daughter that she had been selected for the No. 2 spot on the GOP ticket.
“I’m sure she’s trying. We haven’t been off the phone for a second,” Palin’s mother, Sally Heath, said, explaining that she and her husband were notified of the news by friends in Atlanta who were watching FOX News.
Palin emerged early in the day as the hot name in the vice presidential sweepstakes after reports circulated that two short-listers — Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty — were out of the running.
Adding fuel to the Palin candidacy was a report that a charter aircraft from Anchorage owned by a McCain supporter had arrived at a small airport outside Dayton, Ohio, where McCain has scheduled a noon ET rally to announce his choice.
FOX News reported the jet flew to Flagstaff, Ariz., on Thursday before heading landing in Middletown, Ohio.
The McCain camp issued a statement calling Palin a reformer who can work across the party aisle.
“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.”
A McCain campaign aide described her as a perfect complement to the soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee.
“A maverick with a record of reform picks a maverick with a record of reform. With this pick John McCain is putting Washington on notice. There’s a shake-up coming,” the aide said.
Palin is well received among both economic and social conservatives. She is quoted saying in 2002 that she is as “pro-life as any candidate can be.” The Club for Growth, a government spending watchdog, described Palin as a “genuine reformer.”
“At a time when many Republicans are still clinging to pork-barrel politics, Governor Palin has quickly become a leader on this issue,” said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. “She is a principled reformer who understands how badly wasteful spending has marred the Republican brand.”
Earlier this month, the Anchorage Daily News reported that Palin has been under investigation after 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.”
The McCain camp argued that Palin has nothing to hide.
“As a reformer and a leader on ethics reform, she has been happy to help out in the investigation of this matter, because she was never directly involved. Her sister’s former husband was a state trooper and several years ago was suspended from duty after making threats and using a taser on his stepson. One of her staff members did talk about this episode with the office of public safety, but the governor was not aware of his actions. He was wrong to do so and was later suspended for it,” the campaign said in a statement.
Born in Idaho in 1964, Palin moved to Alaska with her parents, 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. 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, Ferrarro, told FOX News that Palin could pick up a lot of Hillary Clinton’s supporters who have not locked in on Obama.
FOX News’ Carl Cameron contributed to this report.