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McCain VP Choice Likely to Please Conservatives

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain has chosen Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate, describing her as a tough political fighter. VOA's Dan Robinson has this profile of Governor Palin, who is a relative political unknown, and only the second woman to run on the national ticket of a major U.S. political party.

Palin, 44, was elected governor in 2006 as a political reformer, becoming the first woman and the youngest person to serve as Alaska's chief executive.

With an 80 percent approval rating, she has been outspoken on political ethics.

McCain passed over a number of better known contenders, announcing his choice in an appearance before supporters in Dayton, Ohio. He calls Palin a fighter for principles, from outside of Washington, with working class roots.

"I found someone with an outstanding reputation for standing up to special interests and entrenched bureaucracies, someone who has fought against corruption and the failed policies of the past, someone who has stopped government from wasting taxpayers' money on things they don't want or don't need, and put it back to work for the people," McCain said.

The mother of five children, including one born this past April with Downs Syndrome, Palin is a strong opponent of abortion. That is an important issue for conservative and evangelical voters, whose support is key to McCain in his bid to win the presidency.

Political analysts also see the selection of Palin as an effort to win over Democratic and independent women voters who were disappointed by Senator Hillary Clinton's loss in the Democratic Party primary process to Senator Barack Obama. It's the first time a woman has been selected to run on a Republican national ticket, and only the second time a woman has been chosen for a major party slot. Democrat Geraldine Ferraro was selected as the vice-presidential candidate in 1984 by Walter Mondale.

Palin made a pointed reference to her status as a woman candidate as she appeared with McCain one day after the Democratic convention ended in Denver, Colorado, suggesting that Clinton supporters should now shift their support to the Republican ticket.

"It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks [people who voted for Clinton] in the hardest 'glass ceiling' in America, 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.

Senator McCain also may be attempting to counter voter concerns about his age. If elected, he would be 72 when sworn in as president.

Palin praised McCain for his military service in Vietnam, saying he has the foreign policy experience needed for the presidency, and political independence necessary to change the way Washington works.

"No leader in America has shown these qualities so clearly, or presented so clear a threat to business-as-usual in Washington, as Senator John S. McCain," said Palin. "This is a moment when principles and political independence matter a lot more than just the party line, and this is a man who has always been there to serve his country, not just his party."

The surprise choice of Palin came after Barack Obama formally accepted the Democratic presidential nomination, with a major speech before 80,000 people in a stadium in Denver, Colorado.

Analysts say McCain is taking a huge political risk by choosing a relative political unknown, in contrast with the Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden, a Washington veteran who has extensive foreign affairs experience. Palin and Biden both have sons in the military and National Guard who will be deploying to Iraq.

President Bush in a statement Friday said McCain's selection of Palin shows Americans can trust him to make wise decisions.