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McCain Picks Alaska Governor; Palin First Woman on GOP Ticket
"By selecting a working mother with a track record of getting things done, Senator McCain has once again demonstrated his commitment to reforming Washington."
Palin took over as governor of Alaska in December 2006, becoming the youngest person and the first woman to hold the office. A former city council member and two-term mayor of Wasilla, she bested Gov. Frank Murkowski in the 2006 GOP primary and defeated former Democratic governor Tony Knowles in the general election.
On her campaign Web site, she describes herself as a "conservative Republican" who believes firmly in free-market capitalism, as well as a "lifetime member" of the National Rifle Association who has a strong commitment to gun rights. She also said she opposes abortion and believes that "marriage should only be between a man and a woman."
Religious conservative leaders praised the pick in no uncertain terms. In an interview with the conservative Web site Townhall.com, Focus on the Family leader James Dobson, who has been skeptical of McCain, compared his feelings about the choice to those he experienced with the inauguration of Ronald Reagan as president. "That was one of the most exciting days of my life," he said. "I feel very much that way today."
The Alaska governor does differ with McCain on some issues, including his opposition to drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And while she is considered a crusader for the reform of the state's famously insular political culture, she is also the subject of a state ethics investigation of the involvement of aides and family members in lobbying for her former brother-in-law's removal from the state police force and whether the refusal to do so was connected to her decision to fire the state police commissioner.
Palin has gained a great following in the conservative and evangelical movements by virtue of her strong antiabortion views and the fact that she and her husband, Todd, continued their most recent pregnancy after learning that the fetus had Down syndrome. Their son Trig was born in April.
"How refreshing that now we have a woman who reflects the values of mainstream American women,'' said Janice Shaw Crouse of the conservative group Concerned Women for America.