Palin casts herself as Washington outsider

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(AP) - Greeted by thunderous applause, AlaskaGov. Sarah Palin presented herself to the Republican NationalConvention on Wednesday, and millions of Americans watching fromhome, as a small-town outsider ready to join John McCain's ticketin waging "a tough fight in this election against confidentopponents at a crucial hour for our country."

"I will be honored to accept the nomination for vice presidentof the United States," she said in the convention's mostanticipated speech. The 44-year-old, self-described "hockey mom"still awaits formal nomination for the second spot on the ticket.

With those words, the crowd roared - and the flashes ofthousands of cameras reflected off her glasses.

It was the crowning moment of a roller-coaster week in which thefirst woman ever on a Republican presidential ticket has facedquestions about how closely the McCain campaign scrutinized her.She also has heard a wide range of inquiries about family issues,her policy positions and her record of public service.

Palin took crowd-delighting swipes at Democratic presidentialnominee Barack Obama and what she called the "Washington elite."

"Here's a little news flash for all those reporters andcommentators: I'm not going to Washington to seek their goodopinion. I'm going to Washington to serve the people of thiscountry," she said.

Selected by McCain last Friday, Palin addressed the conventionamid questions about her qualifications and relative lack ofexperience.

The first-term governor had top billing at the convention on anight delegates also lined up for a noisy roll call of the statesto deliver their presidential nomination to McCain.

Watching her from inside the convention hall were members ofPalin's family, including husband Todd, and their children,including 17-year-old Bristol Palin, whom the Palins disclosedearlier in the week was five months pregnant. Bristol Palin's18-year-old boyfriend and apparent fiance, Levi Johnston, wasseated with them.

McCain shook up the presidential race by picking Palin, alittle-known governor less than two years in office. Since then, abright spotlight has been trained on the life and record of theRepublican governor who has bucked the state's politicalestablishment.

Days after Palin made her debut on the national stage withMcCain, the campaign announced her unmarried daughter's pregnancy.Other disclosures followed, including that a private attorney isauthorized to spend $95,000 of state money to defend her againstaccusations of abuse of power and that Palin sought pork-barrelprojects for her city and state, contrary to her reformist image.

"Our family has the same ups and downs as any other ... thesame challenges and the same joys," she said.

Noting that the couple's oldest son, Track, 19, was shipping outto Iraq in eight days with the Army infantry, Palin praised McCainas "a true profile in courage, and people like that are hard tocome by."

"He's a man who wore the uniform of this country for 22 years,and refused to break faith with those troops in Iraq who have nowbrought victory within sight. And as the mother of one of thosetroops, that is exactly the kind of man I want as commander inchief," she said.

Largely unknown outside her home state, Palin told theconvention: "I had the privilege of living most of my life in asmall town. I was just your average hockey mom, and signed up forthe PTA because I wanted to make my kids' public educationbetter," she said, speaking of her home town of Wasilla, Alaska,with a population of about 6,500.

"When I ran for city council, I didn't need focus groups andvoter profiles because I knew those voters, and knew theirfamilies, too," she said.

Before becoming governor, Palin served as mayor of Wasilla, sherecounted, adding: "And since our opponents in this presidentialelection seem to look down on that experience, let me explain tothem what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort oflike a 'community organizer,' except that you have actualresponsibilities."

That was a clear jab at Obama, who as a young man worked as acommunity organizer in Chicago, an experience he speaks aboutfrequently on the campaign trail. That remark brought a loudoutburst of laughter and applause.

In another barb directed at the Illinois Democrat, Palin said:"Here's how I look at the choice Americans face in this election.In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promotetheir careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who usetheir careers to promote change."

Click here for more on teen pregnancy

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