McCain Taps Alaska Governor Palin as Vice Presidential Running Mate

The Alaskan governor said her reason for being in politics and for accepting McCain's offer of being his running mate is to "challenge the status quo and to serve the common good." Following her maxim, she said, led her to stand up to the oil companies, lobbyists and "the good ol' boy network."

As an example of fighting the waste of taxpayers money, she brought up the controversy over the multi-million dollar "bridge to nowhere" that embarrassed the state when Alaska's Republican Sen. Ted Stevens inserted the windfall into a Senate bill.

"I told Congress thanks but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere," Palin told the rally. "If our state wanted a bridge, I said, we'd build it ourselves."

The Obama campaign immediately zeroed in on Palin's experience.

"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," Bill Burton, Obama campaign spokesman shot back.

Palin is the youngest governor in Alaska's short statehood history, taking office in 2006 amidst attempts by Democrats to turn the reliably Republican state to their column.

She is a staunch opponent of abortion rights, and a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. Her youngest child is a boy named Trig who was born in April and has Down Syndrome. The parents were aware of the diagnosis when Palin was four months pregnant, but they decided to have the child anyway.

Palin Bring Strong Conservative Credentials to McCain Ticket

McCain's Palin pick should please conservatives but she will be immediately challenged as an inexperienced candidate for a job that is a heartbeat away from the presidency.

McCain's senior adviser Mark Salter tried to dismiss such criticism citing her experience as the chief executive of her state, commander of Alaska's National Guard, and "an actual record of fighting corruption, business as usual and taking on big oil unlike the Democratic presidential nominee, who only pretends he has. I'd say that's more credentials than the top of the other ticket."

Rep. Jim Clyburn, the House Democratic Whip, told South Carolina ETV Radio that the pick was "risky" and would prove to be as embarrassing to McCain as Dan Quayle was to former President George H.W. Bush.

Tough Political Fighter in Alaska

Palin's reputation for being a tough political infighter has been earned largely by battling her own party rather than Democrats.

As mayor of the tiny city of Wasilla -- population a little more than 8,000 -- she was dubbed the "Barracuda," reviving the moniker she had earned on the Wasillia High School basketball team for her aggressive style of play. That team went on to win the state championship in 1982.

As mayor, she was just as fierce, firing department heads who disagreed with her or stood by her predecessor.

Palin continued a reputation for a hard nosed style as she moved up in Alaskan politics.

In 2003, she was appointed to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and within a year forced the resignation of a fellow commissioner on an ethics violation. That commissioner was also chairman of Alaska's Republican Party.

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