McCain taps Sarah Palin for Veep

John McCain picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a maverick conservative with less than two years in office, as his vice presidential running mate Friday in a startling choice as the Republican National Convention drew near.

At a raucous rally in the swing state of Ohio, McCain introduced Palin as the political partner "who can best help me shake up Washington and make it start working again for the people who are counting on us."

Palin, the first Republican woman tapped for national office, promised: "I’m going to take our campaign to every part of our country and our message of reform to every voter of every background in every political party, or no party at all."

"… Politics isn’t just a game of competing interests and clashing parties," added the woman who has built her career in large measure by challenging fellow Republicans. "The people of America expect us to seek public office and to serve for the right reasons."

In a fast-developing presidential campaign, McCain made his selection six days after his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, named Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, as his running mate.

The contrast between the two announcements was remarkable — Obama, 47, picked a 65-year-old running mate with long experience in government and a man whom he said was qualified to be president.

On his 72nd birthday, McCain chose a 44-year-old running mate who until recently was the mayor of small-town Wasilla, Alaska — and made no claim she was ready to sit in the Oval Office.

His campaign issued a statement saying she was, but even so, it wasn’t a point lost on Obama’s campaign.

"Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency," Adrianne Marsh, a spokeswoman for Obama, said in a written statement.

Unlike Biden, who attacked McCain sharply in his debut last week, Palin was indirect in her initial attempts to elevate McCain over Obama.

"There is only one candidate who has truly fought for America and that man is John McCain," she said as the Arizona senator beamed. McCain was a prisoner of war for more than five years in Vietnam.

McCain trails Obama in the polls among women voters, and Palin moved quickly to remedy that.

She mentioned that she followed in the footsteps of Geraldine Ferraro, who was the Democratic vice presidential running mate in 1984, and referred favorably to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who drew 18 million votes in her unsuccessful run against Obama for the Democratic nomination.

"But it turns out the women of America aren’t finished yet and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all," she said.

Republicans said that McCain hoped to blunt Obama’s message of political change with his pick, and it appeared likely she could remove all doubt about her home state in the fall campaign.

Obama has targeted Alaska and its three electoral votes, one of several he hoped to turn competitive in the fall despite its long tradition of voting Republican.

Palin has a strong anti-abortion record, and her selection was praised warmly by social conservatives whose support McCain needs to prevail in the campaign for the White House.

President Bush complimented McCain for "an exciting decision."

"Governor Palin is a proven reformer who is a wise steward of taxpayer dollars and champion for accountability in government," a presidential statement said. "By selecting a working mother with a track record of getting things done, Senator McCain has once again demonstrated his commitment to reforming Washington."

"It’s an absolutely brilliant choice," said Mathew Staver, dean of Liberty University School of Law. "This will absolutely energize McCain’s campaign and energize conservatives," he predicted.

With his pick, McCain passed over more prominent contenders like Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, as well as others such as former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, whose support for abortion rights might have sparked unrest at the convention that opens Monday in St. Paul, Minn.

The timing of McCain’s selection appeared designed to limit any political gain Obama derives from his own convention, which ended Thursday night with his nominating acceptance speech before an estimated 84,000 in Invesco Field in Colorado.

Public opinion polls show a close race between Obama and McCain, and with scarcely two months remaining until the election, neither contender can allow the other to jump out to a big post-convention lead.

At 44, she is younger than two of McCain’s seven children.

She is three years Obama’s junior, as well — and McCain has made much in recent weeks of Obama’s relative lack of experience in foreign policy and defense matters.

In its formal announcement, the campaign pointed to her powers as head of the Alaska National Guard and the mother of a soldier herself as evidence that she "understands what it takes to lead our nation…"

McCain has had months to consider his choice, and has made it clear to reporters that one of his overriding goals was to avoid a situation like 1988, when little known Sen. Dan Quayle was thrown into a national campaign with little preparation.

A self-styled hockey mom and political reformer, Palin was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, population 6,500, until she became governor.

Palin flew overnight to an airport in Ohio near Dayton, and even as she awaited her formal introduction, some aides said they had believed she was at home in Alaska.

She became governor of her state in December, 2006 after ousting a governor of her own party in a primary and then dispatching a former governor in the general election.

More recently, she has come under the scrutiny of an investigation by the Republican-controlled legislature into the possibility that she ordered the dismissal of Alaska’s public safety commissioner because he would not fire her former brother-in-law as a state trooper.

Palin has a long history of run-ins with the Alaska GOP hierarchy, giving her genuine maverick status and reformer credentials that could complement McCain’s image.

Two years ago, she ousted the state’s Republican incumbent governor, Frank Murkowski in the primary, despite having little money and little establishment backing.

She has also distanced herself from two senior Republican office-holders, Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don young. Both men are under federal corruption investigations.

She had earned stripes — and enmity — after Murkowski made her head of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. From that post, she exposed ethical violations by the state GOP chairman, also a fellow commissioner.

Her husband, Todd Palin, is part Yup’ik Eskimo, and is a blue-collar North Slope oil worker who competes in the Iron Dog, a 1,900-mile snowmobile race. The couple lives in Wasilla. They have five children, the youngest of whom was born in April with Down syndrome.


Associated Press Writer Liz Sidoti reported for this story from Denver.


  1. colocritic

    scrugun, I totally agree with your assessment and I don’t mean this toward any of the working mothers at all.

    She is not just any working mother – she has accepted the job of running for the vice presidency of the U.S. That’s a totally different situation. She has to be out on the campaign trail for hours at a time day after day.

    Downs babies require hours and hours of special care, therapy, special techniques that take hours out of each day in order for them to grow to their fullest potential. Seems to me she’s got her priorities confused.

    Maybe hubby is going to be mr. mom and take care of this little guy. Let’s hope one of them sees this responsibility since they chose to carry forth this pregnancy knowing the situation!

    This is such a sad mess all caused by McCain! Idiot!
    We can all hope he doesn’t win and then she can go back to being just a gov. of her small group of citizens.

  2. willyy

    I can just see it now
    Mcain as President
    Peggy Hill as VP
    Hank Hill as Secretary of energy
    Bill” Dauterive is secretary of defense
    Dale Gribble is department of Homeland security
    Nancy Gribble is press secretary
    Cotton Hill is over the VFW,but then Cotton looks a lot like McCain
    Luanne Platter will be over Education
    Kahn Souphanousinphone will be ambassitor to the UN
    John Redcorn will be over the Indian affairs
    Boomhauer will be the secretary of state
    And this country will go down the drain more but we will be running on Hank Hills Propane.

    Seriously I don’t understand his choice at all. Only thing I can think of he is going after the Hillary supporters.

  3. Uncle Ludwig

    At best, it was a serious effort to reconcile some of the weaknesses in the McCain portfolio. At worst, it was a transparent political calculation designed to pander to those groups within the Republican Party that most desire being pandered to.

    Bottom line, it does nothing to encourage us about the viability of a McCain presidency.

  4. LMartinK

    This is truly frightening. Some Presidents never finish their terms. Many Vice Presidents who inherit the office of President have proven dismal and sadly disappointing. At age 72, in an incredible lapse of judgment, McCain has chosen a Vice President from a relatively minor office, and with zero qualifications. After only 2 years in office, she is already plagued by a corruption scandal so typical of Alaskan leadership.

    Obama chose Senator Biden, and McCain choses her. It’s totally bizarre. At least, if whe were to inherit the Oval Office, she could easily surpass Bush as the worst President ever.

    The question becomes; how low can McCain and the GOP go?

    Can you picture this woman as President of the United States of America?


  5. acf

    The post says that she moved quickly to rectify the support issue between McCain and Obama from women. You say that as if she has the ability to do it. Just saying something doesn’t make it so, even though Republicans always try to alter reality with repetitive talk. She may attract conservative women interested in the strong right to life stance she lives, but that person was not going to vote for Obama, in any case. Also, she may actually motivate many of the less than enthusiastic Hillary women to become avid Obama supporters in the face of this alternative in November. Now, how would you like McCain/Palin choosing who the next Supreme Court justice is going to be?

  6. griff

    Whoa! That came out of nowhere. It looks like we have ourselves a full-fledged soap opera now. I’m sure the media is loving this. I’m almost tempted to turn the TV back on…NOT!

  7. sherry

    I think I smell something burning. O yes. That would be Obama’s toga lololol
    The angry PUMAs and the folks who hate the DNC will jump on board.
    At least she has balanced a budget. She DOES have executive experience. OK this is the part where the Obama supporters say something about choice.

  8. Azariel

    I saw someone who was supposed to represent the manic PUMAS tonight on Hardball. I may never sleep again. I think her name was Darragh or something. She was rabid of the highest order. Something stinks here. Something rotten. I smell a rat. A republic-rat.

    I mean-what is the idea here? I only switched the channel and I didn’t know who she was but she was baring her teeth and growling and her eyes were that which has been dead for a very long time.

    Something’s wrong with this picture and I smell Rove at the end of this stuff. There’s nothing rational or reasonable about these people.

    Here Clinton has made a point of asking them to veer off McCain and then McCain makes this “strange” choice Palin (who once insulted Clinton as a whiner)and then the PUMAS start gnashing their teeth like there is some raw meat at the end of their tether and they’ll chew through it to get to it. They put me in mind of Cerberus-the three headed dog-guardian of the gates of Hell.

    Something seriously is strange here-like they were just waiting for their “cue” to leap to the defense of Palin-I didn’t even know what she was talking about. It was the last couple minutes of the show-I just heard her tone-aggressively, psychotic-snapping at Chris Matthews about Palin and I mean-she just went to town.I found out the last seconds-she was a PUMA and only got her first name.

    I think we have something going here like a scene out of “Night of the Living Dead.”-only these so-called PUMAS are completely bizarre. Someone wound them up and set them out on the field and told them-just keep going and don’t stop at any cost. Don’t listen to anyone (not even Clinton) and don’t let anyone, under any circumstances, make any sense around you. And by all means don’t think for yourselves.

    “Night of the Living Dead” was a movie. This isn’t.

    Oh! the horror! The horror!

    “You get more with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word” – Al Capone

  9. VietnamVet

    What a stupid choice! Of all the qualified Republicans McSame could have picked, he goes to the bottom of the stack. I can hardly wait for the VP debates; Joe Biden will clean her clock like it has never been cleaned before! I am sure even some Republicans are cringing at this choice. I an going out on a limb and predicting the Obama will win handily, if not by a land slide in November!

  10. colocritic

    “In its formal announcement, the campaign pointed to her powers as head of the Alaska National Guard and the mother of a soldier herself as evidence that she “understands what it takes to lead our nation…”

    And THAT makes her qualified??? Give us all a break!!

    And Bush’s remark – “an exciting decision”!! Go figure!!

    This fiasco gives me nightmares! This just proves how Old McPow has lost it altogether or it’s a really gutsy choice on his part. Can’t you just hear the roar if Obama had made this kind of choice? The republicans would be screaming all kinds of snide remarks!

    She’s pretty and evidently very spunky but knows absolutely nothing about foreign policy and says she knows little about the war in Iraq. With a son headed there you would think she might try to inform herself a bit on that subject, or at least, not admit you are so ill uninformed.

    Sure she’s accomplished some things in small town politics, but Washington is a universe away from that play ground. She’s going to have to study up quick in order to be able to face Biden in the debate. He will make her look like the unqualified candidate she is.

    It’s amusing to listen to the right wing talking heads trying to defend her. You wonder how they REALLY feel about having to do so.

    Being so unqualified, WHY she would jump at the chance to get into a job of that proportion and not be able to admit she needs a few more years of experience in local politics before even considering getting into national politics? My guess is greedy power hungry politician.

    I am a mother and I criticize her for putting her ambitions ahead of that new baby. He is a downs baby and will need special care depending on the severity of his needs. She chose to have that child, now be a mother! Who is caring for him while she plays politician? I’ll probably be criticized for taking that stand, and it’s none of my business I know, but motherhood is too important to hand off to someone else, especially in the case of this little boy. Both our nation and this child deserve a much more thoughtful decision.


  11. scrugun

    colocritic wrote
    I am a mother and I criticize her for putting her ambitions ahead of that new baby. He is a downs baby and will need special care depending on the severity of his needs. She chose to have that child, now be a mother! Who is caring for him while she plays politician? I’ll probably be criticized for taking that stand, and it’s none of my business I know, but motherhood is too important to hand off to someone else, especially in the case of this little boy. Both our nation and this child deserve a much more thoughtful decision.
    This is the kind of response that they want.
    I think they are counting on this to be able to say that this is a cutdown to all the working mothers out here, in other words pandering to all the working mothers in this country.