Published August 29, 2008
Sarah Palin, the first female governor of Alaska, is seen as a rising star within the Republican Party.
She became the youngest person to assume the top office of the 49th State in 2006. Her anti-abortion stance is certain to appeal to evangelicals, while her views on the threats of climate change mirror those of Sen. John McCain.
"Palin is becoming a star in the conservative movement, a fiscal conservative in a state that is looking like a boondoggle for pork barrel spending," Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway has said. "She's young, vibrant, fresh and now, and a new mother of five. She should be in the top tier. If the Republican Party wants to wrestle itself free from the perception that it is royalist and not open to putting new talent on the bench, this would be the real opportunity."
Her addition to the McCain ticket would add youth. But it is her gender that could help sway women, especially the "security moms" who helped President Bush win re-election in 2004, to vote GOP.
Born in Sandpoint, Idaho, on Feb. 11, 1964, Palin moved with her family at the age of three months to Wasilla, Alaska, though she returned to her birth state to attend the University of Idaho, where she studied journalism and graduated in 1987 with a bachelor's degree.
Palin is the mother of five children — Bristol, Willow, Piper, Track and Trig, who was born in April with Down syndrome.
She grew up in Wasilla, just outside of Anchorage, played on Wasilla's state championship girls' basketball team in 1982, wore the crown of Miss Wasilla in 1984 and competed in the Miss Alaska contest.
She began her professional career as a television sports reporter, but after she married her husband, Todd, she helped run his family's commercial fishing business. Other professional endeavors included the ownership of snow machine, watercraft and all-terrain vehicle business.
She ran for Wasilla City Council in 1992, winning her seat by opposing tax increases. Four years later, she was elected mayor of Wasilla at age 32 by knocking off a three-term incumbent.
At the end of her second term, party leaders encouraged her to enter the 2002 race for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. Against veteran legislators with far more experience, Palin finished second by fewer than 2,000 votes, making a name for herself in statewide politics.
Palin had exceptionally high approval ratings through mid-2007 and received high marks for her accessibility, a change from Frank Murkowski's administration.
But as she moved beyond the first 100 days, Palin faced the challenge of marshalling those positives into accomplishments, not the least of which is the multi-billion dollar construction of a project critical to the state's economy.