The choice of the Alaska governor adds to the historic nature of the '08 election race

By Tim Nudd
August 29, 2008 11:00 AM
Jack Kurtz/ZUMA; Al Grillo/AP

John McCain added to the historic nature of the 2008 presidential race Friday by picking Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate – only the second woman ever to appear on a major-party presidential ticket.

Palin, 44, beat out a host of better-known candidates for the nod, including Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, Homeland Security secratary Tom Ridge (also the former governor of Pennsylvania), and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

Running on a ticket promising heavy reform, Palin won election to the governor’s mansion in Alaska in 2006 after she unexpectedly beat then-Gov. Frank Murkowski in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

The only other woman to feature on a major-party presidential ticket was Geraldine Ferraro, who was Democrat Walter Mondale’s running mate in 1984.

Palin appeared with McCain at a rally in Ohio on Friday afternoon.

The Democratic ticket is also groundbreaking this year, with Barack Obama being the first African-American major-party candidate for president. Obama selected Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate on Aug. 23.

25 Questions for John McCain
1984: See the FIRST female Vice Presidential nominee on the cover of PEOPLE