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McCain makes surprise pick of woman governor for VP

From AFP

DAYTON, Ohio (AFP) — Republican John McCain unveiled a major surprise in the White House race Friday with his pick of first woman governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, as his running-mate, campaign officials told AFP. A political outsider and relative unknown on the national stage, Palin, 44, a mother of five children, emerged late Thursday as the dark horse candidate for McCain’s vice-presidential nominee.

Palin, reportedly a former entrant in the Miss Alaska contest, could appeal to the Republican’s grassroots conservative base, as she is strongly pro-life and backs the gun lobby. As a young mother she would balance out concerns over McCain’s age who celebrated his 72nd birthday on Friday, and she could also be seen as a breath of fresh air, untainted by Washington politics.

Palin is the first woman to lead Alaska and is best known for aggressively pushing for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a key part of McCain’s energy policy. Palin would also help McCain maintain his image as a maverick outsider: she gained popularity as a crusading rebel and whistle blower against corruption among fellow Alaskan Republicans.

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