McCain taps Alaska governor for VP

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(AP) - John McCain picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin,a maverick conservative with less than two years in office, as his vice presidential running mate Friday in a startling choice as the Republican National Convention drew near.

At a raucous rally in the swing state of Ohio, McCain introduced Palin as the political partner "who can best help me shake up Washington and make it start working again for the people who are counting on us."

Palin, the first Republican woman tapped for national office, promised: "I'm going to take our campaign to every part of our country and our message of reform to every voter of every background in every political party, or no party at all."

With his pick, McCain passed over more prominent contenders such as Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, as well as others such as Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, whose support for abortion rights might have sparked unrest at the convention that opens Monday in St. Paul, Minn.

Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a Republican, said she knows Palin through the National Governors Association and called her a "great asset."

"She's a governor and governors get it," Rell said. "We're dealing with problems in our states right now. We're dealing with federal cutbacks and the like, and she knows how to make our voices resonate in Washington.?

In a fast-developing presidential campaign, McCain made his selection six days after his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, named Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, as his running mate.

The contrast between the two announcements was remarkable - Obama, 47, picked a 65-year-old running mate with long experience in government.

On his 72nd birthday, McCain chose a 44-year-old running mate who until recently was the mayor of small-town Wasilla, Alaska.

Palin mentioned that she followed in the footsteps of Geraldine Ferraro, who was the Democratic vice presidential running mate in 1984, and referred favorably to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who drew 18 million votes in her unsuccessful run against Obama for the Democratic nomination.

"But it turns out the women of America aren't finished yet and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all," Palin said.

Click here to watch the entire rally

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