Republican presidential hopeful John McCain on Friday officially presented 44-year-old Alaskan governor Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential candidate at a rally in Dayton, Ohio.
"She's not from these parts and she's not from Washington,” said McCain, referring to Palin’s relative anonymity in the US political scene. “But when you get to know her, you're going to be as impressed as I am. She's got the grit, integrity, good sense, and fierce devotion to the common good that is exactly what we need in Washington today."
A surprise choice
Palin’s designation came a day after Barack Obama was officially nominated as the Democratic party’s presidential candidate,
The decision came as a surprise. Until very recently, McCain’s former rival and self-made tycoon Mitt Romney was among the candidates touted for the post. Others cited as possible picks were Senator Joe Lieberman, Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, and Governors Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania, a key swing state, and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota.
Democrats were unprepared for the choice, according to FRANCE 24 correspondent Ed O’Keefe. “They don’t know what to make of this yet… They were expecting someone a little more conventional.”
McCain’s choice is seen as a move that would help his campaign appeal to women voters. Even though Palin is younger than Barack Obama and has less experience than him, her nomination would give the McCain campaign "opportunity to pick up some of Hillary Clinton's jilted supporters," says O'Keefe.
Sarah Palin – where conservatism and charisma meet
Palin served as a councillor and later mayor of the town of Wasilla, and in 2003-04 as ethics commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, where she campaigned against corruption, criticizing fellow Republicans.
Elected Alaska’s first woman governor in 2006, she led the oil-producing US state for almost two years, pushing for the construction of an oil pipeline.
A staunch opposer of abortion, Palin is married with five children, whose ages range from 4 months to 18 years. She supports Alaska’s ban on gay marriage, though she has said she has gay friends.
Palin’s conservative image is complemented by a mixture of toughness and charisma. A member of the National Rifle Association, Palin is reported to be an avid hunter and sportsman. Moreover, the Republican vice-presidential pick also went through a brief stint on the beauty ramp, coming second in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant in 1984.