McCain picks Sarah Palin to win over Hillary supporters (Lead)

August 29th, 2008 - 11:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 29 (IANS) In an apparent bid to counter Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s historic nomination, his Republican rival John McCain made an equally historic choice of his running mate in Alaska’s woman Governor Sarah Palin.Palin, 44, was considered a dark horse, but McCain zeroed in on her to make it appealing to women voters who might have been disillusioned by Obama’s decision to pick veteran Senator Joe Biden as his No.2 instead of Hillary Clinton, the former first lady.

But 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 the running mate by Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale in 1984.

McCain was to introduce his choice at an event Friday at midday in Dayton, Ohio, a day after Obama stole the show at the Democratic convention in Denver, where he accused his Republican rival of following the policies of George W. Bush’s “failed presidency”.

“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.

McCain is preparing to accept his party’s nomination for president at the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, next week.

“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”.

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.

In 2002, Palin made an unsuccessful bid for lieutenant governor, coming in second to Loren Leman in a four-way race.

Highlights of Palin’s tenure as governor include a successful push for an ethics bill, and also shelving pork-barrel projects supported by fellow Republicans. Palin successfully killed the Bridge to Nowhere project that had become a nationwide symbol of wasteful earmark spending.

In 2007, Palin had an approval rating often in the 90s. A poll published by Hays Research on July 28, 2008 showed Palin’s approval rating at 80 percent.

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