John McCain Makes Surprise VP Pick

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin Getty Images hide caption

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Republican Sen. John McCain has chosen Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his presidential running mate, a surpise decision that pundits scrambling to learn more about the first-term governor.

NPR's John Ydstie offers analysis on Palin's selection and what it means for McCain's prospects in November.

McCain Picks Alaska's Gov. Sarah Palin For VP Spot

Republican Sen. John McCain announced Friday that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be his vice presidential running mate, a move that brings youth and a staunch abortion opponent to the GOP ticket.

"She's exactly who this country needs to help us fight the same old Washington politics of me first and country second," McCain said at a rally in Dayton, Ohio.

Palin is the first woman to be named to a spot on the GOP ticket. "I am honored," she said, as her husband and four of her children stood behind her. Her eldest child was absent from the event, pending his deployment to Iraq.

McCain's campaign touted Palin as a maverick who has challenged the influence of big oil companies and used her veto power to cut budgetary spending since becoming governor two years ago.

"Governor Palin has the record of reform and bipartisanship that others can only speak of. Her experience in shaking up the status quo is exactly what is needed in Washington today," the campaign's news release said.

Palin, 44, was elected Alaska's first woman governor in 2006 on a platform of ethics reform. She has extensive influence in Alaska politics, having served as mayor of Wasilla and ethics commissioner on the state's Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Palin has also been a steadfast opponent of abortion, giving birth earlier this year to a child she knew would have Down syndrome. Her addition to the ticket could bolster McCain's support among the Republican Party's Christian base.

Palin and her husband, Todd, have five children, ranging in age from 18 years to 4 months. Todd Palin is of native Alaskan Yup'ik ancestry.

McCain's announcement comes a day after Illinois Sen. Barack Obama accepted the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. McCain and Palin will face Obama and Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden in the Nov. 4 election.

Palin will become only the second female vice presidential nominee of a major party. Democrat Geraldine Ferraro was Walter Mondale's pick as a running mate in 1984.

From NPR and wire reports.

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