McCain Picks Female Governor for Vice Presidential Candidate

U.S. Republican presidential candidate John McCain has chosen a relative unknown, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, as his vice presidential running mate.

McCain announced his selection Friday to a crowd of supporters at a rally in Dayton, Ohio, ahead of next week's Republican National Convention. He called her the "right partner" with strong principles, a fighting spirit and deep compassion.

This is the first time a woman has run on the Republican party's national ticket.

Palin, a 44-year-old first term governor, is a conservative on both social and economic issues. The mother of five is a relatively little-known candidate whose selection was widely unexpected.

After she was introduced by Senator McCain, Palin described herself as a reformer who has stood up against politics as usual. The governor said Americans deserve political leaders who challenge the status quo to serve the common good.

Democratic rival Barack Obama criticized the pick, saying McCain had selected the former mayor of a town of nine-thousand people who had no foreign policy experience.

Some observers say the selection of Palin is a huge political risk for McCain, given that, as a first-term governor, she has no national experience.

However, McCain's campaign pointed out that as governor, Palin heads the Alaska National Guard and said that as the mother of a solider, she understands what it takes to lead the nation.

McCain bypassed several potential running mates believed to be top contenders, including former rival and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney as well as former Democrat-turned-independent Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.