August 29, 2008 8:46 AM
McCain picks Palin - gamble or genius? Or both?
John McCain has chosen Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a 44-year-old pro-life social conservative who loves hockey and hunting, to be his running mate.
McCain kept his vice presidential pick a closely guarded secret mere hours before the high-stakes announcement today and speculation moved to Palin as other, more prominent prospects dropped away.
Palin is described as a self-styled "hockey mom" and political reformer.
With an announcement scheduled in Dayton, Ohio, an associate of Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said the governor had been informed he was not McCain's pick.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for Pawlenty, who had all but ruled himself out.
"I'm not going to be there. I plan to be at the state fair. You can draw your conclusion from that," Pawlenty said on his weekly call-in radio show on WCCO-AM in Minneapolis. He also called it "a fair assumption" that would not be McCain's running mate.
Associates close to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney were saying the same thing, telling The Associated Press that the former presidential candidate had not been offered the job by McCain.
Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., who has been an energetic supporter of McCain for months, was also eliminated from contention, according to a Republican official.
Palin is a first-term governor credited with reforms of her out-of-the-way state. Newly minted Democratic nominee Barack Obama is making an aggressive play for the traditional GOP stronghold and its three electoral votes, and polls show the race close.
At 44, Palin is younger than Obama and, like McCain, she calls herself a maverick.
Wise choice to pick someone who is expected to energize the conservative base? Can they convince America that she is ready to be President if necessary? Will it draw women to the ticket?