Sarah Palin is a popular first-term governor who came to political
prominence in the far northwestern state of Alaska for tackling
An economic and social conservative, the 44-year-old Palin opposes abortion and same-sex marriage. A hunter, fisher and general outdoors enthusiast, she favors the rights of gun owners.
As the chief executive of an oil and natural gas-rich state, Palin heads the National Governors Association's Natural Resources Committee. She has campaigned in favor of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And this week she signed legislation on a natural gas pipeline that would tap resources in Alaska's North Slope.
The governor has five children, the oldest of whom signed up for the military on September 11, 2007, the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States. Her youngest child, who has Downs syndrome, was born earlier this year.
Palin's husband, Todd, is of native Alaskan Eskimo heritage. He is an oil field production operator for BP and also is a four-time Iron Dog snowmobile race champion.
This would be the second time a woman has been on a major party ticket in the United States. Democrat Geraldine Ferraro ran unsuccessfully for vice president in 1984.
Palin would be the only governor on the major party national tickets this year, with McCain and Democrat Barack Obama and his running mate Joe Biden all in the U.S. Senate.
McCain's campaign has been hoping to attract supporters of Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, who this year ran the most successful presidential campaign by a woman in U.S. history.
Palin, who was born in the western state of Idaho, was a runner-up in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant in 1984. Before her election as governor, she was a city councilwoman and mayor.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.