John McCain surprised most observers of American politics by choosing the current governor of Alaska Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate. The choice of the 44-year-old mother of five adds youth and experience to Republican attempts to win a third consecutive term in office.
Palin is much loved by US conservatives because of her tax-cutting credentials and her opposition to abortion. It is thought the choice will help McCain make peace with the party’s right-wing Christian base.
Palin is a keen hunter and member of the National Rifle Association, a powerful lobby fiercely against gun control.
Like McCain she has a maverick streak, she has angered environmentalists by opposing the listing of the polar bear as a threatened species and is a big supporter of gas and oil drilling in Alaska. Palin was sworn in as Alaska’s youngest and first female governor in December 2006.