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  • Profile: Sarah Palin, John McCain's running mate

    In this file photo, Alaska Republican Governor, Sarah Palin, poses in her office in the Capitol, in Juneau, Alaska. John McCain tapped little-known Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential running mate, two senior campaign officials t old The Associated Press on Friday. A formal announcement was expected within a few hours at a campaign rally in swing-state Ohio. Photo: AP.

    She hunts. She fishes. She was voted Miss Congeniality after winning abeauty pageant in her small town in Alaska. She is a mother of five and achurchgoer who says her favourite meal is moose stew. But the quality that may serve Sarah Palin best after being chosen byJohn McCain as his running mate yesterday (AUG29) may be thecompetitiveness and determination to win that earned her the name SarahBarracuda for her sharp elbows as high school basketball player.

    Palin, 44, the first female governor of Alaska and the first woman on aRepublican presidential ticket, has a life story that could make aconservative Republican swoon. Born in Idaho, Palin moved to Alaska as achild. She married her high school sweetheart, Todd Palin, who works on theoilfields and is a champion snowmobile racer. The couple live on a lake, own a float plane, and have raised fivechildren. Their eldest son is in the army and is about to deploy to Iraq.Their youngest son is six months old and was born with Downs syndrome.

    She is a fierce opponent of abortion and same sex marriage. She supportsthe death penalty and the teaching of creationism in schools. Palin is anenthusiast for the outdoors and a gun owner, and is opposed toenvironmental restrictions on drilling in Alaska.While virtually unknown to the average American before Friday, Palin hasbeen a rising star in political circles since 2006. She challenged theincumbent Republican governor, who was then under the shadow of acorruption scandal, in the state primary, and went on to beat herDemocratic opponent - a rare bright light for Republicans in 2006 who werelosing across the map.

    In a state dominated by big oil and its cosy relationship withRepublican grandees, Palin campaigned in her first big race on a promise toend corruption and cut government spending. Her launchpad into that race, after a few failed attempts to move upfrom the elected mayor of a town of 9,000, was an ethics scandal. In 2004,Palin quit her job as the head of Alaska's oil and gas regulator aftercomplaining about ethical violations by a commissioner who was also thechairman of the state Republican party. Palin initially came under attackfor speaking out, but was eventually vindicated.

    As governor, she has demonstrated a populist flair. She sold theofficial governor's plane and took commercial flights. She drives herselfto work in the family Volkswagen Jetta. In an attempt to soften the burdenon Alaskans of high petrol prices, she proposed giving every household a$100 energy debit card. Palin has also tried to cut government spending, shutting down a bridgeproject that would have cost $400m. But her combative nature has also caused controversy. In Alaska, she hasa long list of political enemies.

    She is also under investigation into whether she intervened to sack astate trooper who was involved in a divorce and custody battle with hersister. Palin is alleged to have transferred the commissioner of public safety,Walter Monegan, to a job at the state alcohol board last month, after herefused to sack the police official.

    Hunter who enjoys a good moose-burger

    - Palin is a 44-year-old conservative who has been governor for less thantwo years. Before that she was mayor of Wasilla, a town near Anchorage witha population of 9,000 people. - She was runner-up in the 1984 Miss Alaska contest, winning ascholarship to pay her college fees. - Palin used marijuana when it was legal in Alaska, but said she did notlike it. - Her husband Todd, is a native Yup'ik who works for BP and is afour-time champion of the Iron Dog, the world's longest snowmobile race. - The couple eloped after college and recruited two residents of an oldpeople's home to witness their ceremony. - They have two sons, Track, 18, and Trig, born in April, and threedaughters, Bristol, 17, Willow, 13, and Piper, seven. - Palin is a lifelong member of the National Rifle Association, a keenhunter whose favourite meal is moose-burger.

    Copyright: Guardian News & Media 2008

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