Who? Here’s a Primer on GOP Veep Choice Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin (pronounced PAY-lin) took office as Alaska’s first female governor Dec. 4, 2006. She is 44 years old and is a mother of five kids. Her youngest child, born in April, has Down syndrome.

In April, the Anchorage Daily News reported:

Trig Paxson Van Palin arrived about a month early and has Down syndrome, the governor confirmed. Testing during early pregnancy revealed the condition. Palin said she was sad at first but they now feel blessed that God chose them. The couple has lots of family support, she said.

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The governor has roots in local government, serving two terms on the Wasilla City Council and two terms as the mayor/manager of tiny Wasilla, Alaska, a town of 6,700 people whose average family income is $53,000.

Palin says she is a lifelong member of the National Rifle Association and her official bio shows her holding on to a caribou she apparently hunted (this site has been tough to get into). That sort of photo plays well in Alaska where her approval ratings hang in the 80-90 percent range.

See this story on the ride of Sarah Palin from KTUU-TV in Anchorage.

Just a week or so ago, Alaskans got a cash gift from the governor and the legislature. Look at this release from her office:

I’m pleased to report to Alaskans that in early August, our Alaska Legislature agreed to approve a one-time resource rebate that returns part of our resource wealth to Alaskans — the owners in common of these resources. The rebate will be a direct payment of $1,200 to each Alaskan eligible for the 2008 Permanent Fund Dividend. The resource rebate was part of a larger energy package that also includes a 50 percent increase in the maximum loan amount for bulk fuel bridge and bulk fuel revolving loan funds to communities and cooperatives. Additionally, it suspends the state’s eight-cent motor fuel tax on gasoline, marine fuel and aviation fuel for one year and strengthens the Power Cost Equalization Program.

In January she created a stir when Vogue included a story about her. She was quoted as saying her favorite meal is “moose stew after a day of snowmobiling.”

She will play well with McCain’s pro-oil drilling stance since Palin herself has been pressing hard to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Interestingly, earlier this month, Palin had nice things to say about Sen. Obama’s energy plan.

She was born in Idaho and graduated from the University of Idaho with a journalism degree in 1987.

Her official bio says:

Sarah Heath Palin arrived in Alaska with her family in 1964, when her parents came to teach school in Skagway. She received a bachelor of science degree in communications-journalism from the University of Idaho in 1987. Palin, who graduated from Wasilla High School in 1982, has lived in Skagway, Eagle River and Wasilla.

She is married to Todd Palin, who is a lifelong Alaskan, a production operator on the North Slope and a four-time champion of the Iron Dog, the world’s longest snowmachine race.

Todd and Sarah fish in Bristol Bay with their children — Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper and Trig. Through Todd’s Yup’ik grandmother, Alaska’s Native heritage plays an important role in their family. Track enlisted in the U.S. Army on Sept. 11, 2007.

Palin’s most prominent controversy of late has to do with accusations that her office worked to get her former brother-in-law fired from a state trooper’s job.

She is not afraid to use the veto pen. See these instances in which she vetoed legislation.

A number of Alaska’s state officials have been charged in corruption investigations. Last year, Palin backed and signed a new ethics law. The Anchorage Daily News reported:

The law requires lobbyists to report to APOC any food or drink they buy for a legislator that costs more than $15 — an unpopular stipulation among restaurant owners, particularly those in Juneau — and it prohibits them from accepting gifts worth more than $250 from the same person within a year, excluding food and tickets to charitable events.

This year, the Palin administration started something her administration called the “online checkbook” which she says shows Alaskans where their money is spent. The online site says it will list any payment of $1,000 or more to any vendor or grant recipient.

RealClear Politics gives this background for the Alaska Governor:

When she was leading her underdog Wasilla high school basketball team to the state championship in 1982, her teammates called her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her fierce competitiveness.

Two years later, when she won the “Miss Wasilla” beauty pageant, she was also voted “Miss Congeniality” by the other contestants.

Sarah Barracuda. Miss Congeniality. Fire and nice. A happily married mother of five who is still drop dead gorgeous. And smart to boot.

But it’s mostly because she’s been a crackerjack governor, a strong fiscal conservative and a ferocious fighter of corruption, especially in her own party.

Ms. Palin touches other conservative bases, some of which Sen. McCain has been accused of rounding. Track, her eldest son, enlisted in the Army last Sept. 11. She’s a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association who hunts, fishes and runs marathons. A regular churchgoer, she’s staunchly pro-life.

Kimberley Strassel of The Wall Street Journal said Sen. McCain should run against a corrupt, do-nothing Congress, a la Harry Truman. If he should choose to do so, Gov. Palin would make an excellent partner. “The landscape is littered with the bodies of those who have crossed Sarah,” pollster Dave Dittman told the Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes.

To get an idea of what is on her personal radar, it might be useful to read what she said in her last State of the State address in Alaska. In January, she spoke about what she considers to be her crowing achievement so far — a multibillion dollar natural gas pipeline deal that she put together. Her experience in the world of oil and gas makes her a likely spokesperson for energy policy in a McCain administration.

This “Draft Palin” campaign has been going on for some time. A Web site dedicated to the movement has been running for a couple of weeks. There is even an official-looking chat board.

Why Palin?

RealClear Politics offered a logical argument:

Traditionally, a presidential nominee has chosen a running mate to balance the ticket geographically, or to appease a faction of the party. The most successful example of this was when John F. Kennedy picked Lyndon Johnson, though neither liked the other, and LBJ joined the ticket only because he thought Kennedy would lose.

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