McCain picks Sarah Palin to shatter the glass ceiling Hillary cracked (Second Lead)

August 30th, 2008 - 1:10 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 29 (IANS) Republican presidential candidate John McCain chose Alaska’s woman Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate to reach out to female voters disillusioned by his Democratic rival Barack Obama’s decision to overlook Hillary Clinton.Introducing Palin, 44, at a raucous rally Friday in Dayton, Ohio, McCain said he had chosen her after looking for a 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 was “exactly who I need. She’s exactly who this country needs to help us fight the same old Washington politics of me first and country second”, said McCain who would be formally nominated at the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, next week.

McCain, who turned 72 Friday, chose the day to announce his “historic decision” to limit the bounce rival Obama is getting since accepting his historic nomination as the first black American flag bearer of a major political party in a spectacular finale of the Democratic convention in Denver Thursday.

“She’s got the grit, integrity, good sense and fierce devotion to the common good that is exactly what we need in Washington today,” McCain told the rally of about 15,000 supporters, who welcomed the surprise pick with cheers and flags.

Palin told the crowd: “To have been chosen brings a great challenge. I know that it will demand the best that I have to give and I promise nothing less.”

Palin was considered a dark horse, but McCain zeroed in on her to make it appealing to women voters who might have been disappointed by Obama’s decision to pass the former first lady, who famously made 18 million cracks in the highest glass ceiling with her as many supporters in the primaries.

She herself could not have made the Republican strategy plainer as she referred favourably to Hillary Clinton’s tenacious 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.

“It would be a clear sign from the McCain campaign that they were going to be making a very strong bid for the women whom they see up for grabs - both the traditional, swing independent suburbanites and then the Hillary Clinton supporters who remain disillusioned,” said former White House political adviser Karl Rove on Fox News Friday.

But the Washington Post columnist Chris Cillizza believed “in picking Palin, McCain is taking a calculated risk. She is totally unknown and untested on the national stage but also has impressive credentials in her short time in public life”.

Palin is not the first woman to appear on a major party ticket for vice president. That honour goes to then US Representative, Geraldine Ferraro, who was chosen as his running mate by Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale in 1984.

Palin is a conservative first-term governor of Alaska with strong anti-abortion views, a record of reform and fiscal conservatism and an outsider’s perspective on Washington. She is also an avid sportswoman who would bring youth and vitality to the ticket.

“This is a bold choice of a strong conservative who is a reformer and will be greeted by the delegates in St. Paul with enthusiasm,” said Republican strategist Scott Reed.

The youngest and first female governor of Alaska, Palin is a former Miss Alaska runner-up. She unseated incumbent Governor Frank Murkowski in the Republican primary in 2006 and went on to defeat former governor Tony Knowles, a Democrat, in the general election.

In 1984, Palin was second-place in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant after winning the Miss Wasilla contest earlier that year, winning a scholarship to help pay her way through college.

Details of Palin’s personal life have contributed to her political image. She hunts, eats moose burgers, ice fishes, rides snowmobiles, and owns a floatplane. Palin holds a lifetime membership with the National Rifle Association.

She admits that she used marijuana when it was legal in Alaska, but says that she did not like it. Palin holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Idaho where she also minored in politics.

She briefly worked as a sports reporter for local Anchorage television station while also working as a commercial fisherman with her husband, Todd, a native Yup’ik Eskimo.

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