Palin first woman on Republican presidential ticket
In a campaign where being a "maverick" is considered a good thing, a woman who takes in pride in calling herself a "pitbull with lipstick" fits right in.
Born Sarah Louise Heath on Feb. 11, 1964 in Sandport, Idaho, Sarah Palin is serving her first term as governor of Alaska and was the first woman and youngest person ever to be elected into the position. She is the first woman to run for vice president on the Republican ticket and the second woman to run on a major party presidential ticket.
Palin led her high school basketball team in Wasillia, Alaska to a state basketball championship, where she earned the nickname "Sarah Barracuda" for her tenacity on the court.
After high school, Palin attended five colleges in three states before completing a journalism degree from the University of Idaho in 1987.
During her time in college, she placed third in the 1984 Miss Alaska beauty pageant.
Early political career
Palin's political career began when she was elected to the Wasilla City Council at the age of 28, and that began a quick rise through all levels of Alaskan government.
After re-election to Wasilla City Council in 1995, she was elected mayor of Wasilla in 1996 and re-elected in 1999. Palin unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor of Alaska in 2002.
In 2003, she was appointed chairwoman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission but resigned in January 2004 because of what she called "a lack of ethics" of her fellow Republicans on the commission.
In the general election for governor in 2006, Palin defeated Tony Knowles, a former two-term governor Alaska.
Many had not heard of Sarah Palin before Republican presidential candidate John McCain named her his running mate in August. Many had suspected that McCain would use electoral geography in selecting his running mate. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was considered the favorite because of his strong showing as runner-up in the Republican presidential nominating process and his ties to Michigan, considered a "swing state" with 17 electoral votes at stake. ?
After a well-received speech at the Republican National Convention, McCain saw a boost in the polls and for the time began to lead Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in many national polls.
"Gov. Palin has shown that she is ready to stand up against corrupt politicians from both parties, big government, wasteful spending and the overall 'me first' attitude of Washington politics and politicians," said CMU College Republicans vice chairman and Lincoln Park sophomore Nathan Inks. "She has never been afraid to stand up to members of her own party, and with her at Sen. McCain's side, a McCain/Palin administration would put Americans first. What we need is a change in the general attitude of Washington politicians, and Gov. Palin can help us achieve that change."
Palin's selection brought immediate controversy. Many media outlets criticized McCain for selecting such an inexperienced candidate after he had criticized Obama's lack of experience for months.
Others questioned her parenting skills after Palin, who is an advocate for abstinence-only sex education, revealed her 17-year-old daughter was pregnant.
It also came to light that Palin is under investigation as to whether she fired Alaska's public safety commissioner for refusing to fire Palin's ex-brother-in-law, an Alaska state trooper.
Palin also says she is a strict social conservative who is anti-abortion and believes that Roe v. Wade should be overturned.
She is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, supports capital punishment, favors intelligent design being taught in public schools and opposes gay marriage.