Election 2008

Sarah Palin, Alaska governor, Wasilla
Stephan Savoia/AP
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, left, smiles after
introducing his Vice Presidential running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, in Dayton,
Ohio., Friday, Aug. 29, 2008.

McCain Taps Relative Unknown Palin as VP

August 29, 2008 02:05 PM
by Christopher Coats
Republican nominee John McCain selected Alaska’s youngest and first female governor, Sarah Palin, as his vice presidential running mate.

Gov. Sarah Palin

Popular among many conservatives, Palin is largely unknown on the national stage, though some conservative commentators have celebrated her “reformer” approach to government, declaring she would “knock the legs out from Obama’s monopoly on ‘Change.’”

The Barack Obama campaign quickly sent out a response to Palin’s selection, accusing McCain of choosing someone with no foreign policy experience and someone who promises to support “the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush’s failed economic policies.”

According to The New York Times, the choice is a direct appeal to disaffected supporters of Hillary Clinton

Elected to state office in 2006, Palin first entered politics in 1992 as a city council member of Wasilla, Alaska. Challenging the incumbent mayor in 1996, Palin rose to prominence for her challenge to the Republican state establishment.
Palin lost her first bid at the state’s lieutenant governor’s office but was appointed to the Ethics Commission of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Committee. She resigned the following year, reporting that she felt her efforts to draw attention to misdeeds were largely ignored.

In 2006, Palin launched a gubernatorial campaign based on clean and open government, challenging and beating Republican incumbent Frank Murkowski in the Republican primary.

She went on to win the state election by eight points.

A vocal critic of her own party’s leadership in Alaska, Palin has often found herself at odds with the likes of Congressman Don Young and Sen. Ted Stevens, both of whom are now the subjects of corruption investigations.

Most notable was her decision to terminate Steven’s “bridge to nowhere”; a $398 million construction project that had become a national symbol of pork barrel spending. One of her first official acts as governor was to sell the private jet purchased by the outgoing Murkowski on eBay for $2.7 million.

Palin is an ardent conservative on a number of issues, including gun rights, abortion and gay marriage, and has declared her support for expanding oil exploration and drilling into Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Reserve; an issue where she differs from McCain.

She recently earned national attention for leading a state lawsuit to reverse the placement of polar bears onto the endangered species list, for fear that it would damage Alaska’s economy and hinder efforts for further oil exploration.

Popular among Alaskans for her insistence on clean government, Palin is currently the subject of a state probe into allegations that members of her administration placed pressure on officials to fire her former brother-in-law from his position as a state trooper.

Born in Sandpoint, Idaho
, Palin moved with her family to Wasilla, Alaska where she helped lead her high school basketball team to a state championship in 1982, and went on to place as a runner-up in the Miss Alaska Beauty Pageant.

The future governor would return to her birthplace to earn a journalism degree from the University of Idaho.

An avid outdoors enthusiast, Palin is married to her high school boyfriend Todd, a native Yup’ik Eskimo, and has five children, the eldest of which serves in the U.S. Army.

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