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The Palin Stunner

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By Chris Cillizza
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Friday, August 29, 2008; 10:50 AM

DENVER -- John McCain's selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential running mate is a stunning surprise almost certain to recalibrate the race heading into the fall election.

The McCain campaign had make little secret of the fact that they wanted to pick a woman as the Arizona senator's running mate, believing that the rift caused by the protracted primary between Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton gave them an opportunity to pick up scads of disgruntled women.

While Palin was among those mentioned -- she cracked The Fix's Veepstakes Line on several occasions -- she was never seen as a serious contender: too young (she is in her early 40s), too inexperienced (she has been governor for less than two years) and from a state, in Alaska, that is not regarded as a battle ground.

When Palin gave birth to her fifth child, a son named Trig Paxson, in April and announced he had Down Syndrome, she was widely ruled out of the veepstakes. But, conversations obviously continued outside public view.

The Palin pick gives McCain a counterweight to the historical nature of the Democratic ticket, which features the first African American nominee of either party. Palin is the first woman to serve as the Republican vice presidential pick; Democrats crossed that Rubicon in 1984 when Geraldine Ferraro was Minnesota Sen. Walter Mondale's running mate in an election where the Democratic ticket was swamped by President Ronald Reagan.

In choosing Palin, McCain also doubles down on the maverick argument; Palin is the face of reform in the Republican party nationally and is clearly not of Washington -- a key element of her biography given how negative voter sentiment toward the nation's capital is currently.


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