Palin has risen quickly from PTA to VP pick

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The country, most of it anyway, got its first glimpse Friday of Sarah Heath Palin, John McCain's selection as his running mate, and the reaction was nearly universal:


Palin is breathtakingly unlike any other vice presidential pick in American history -- a gun-toting, mooseburger-eating former Miss Wasilla, an Alaska governor whose parents nearly missed her national unveiling because they were out hunting caribou.

The first woman to grace a Republican ticket stepped onto the stage with McCain in Dayton, Ohio, surrounded by her husband and four of their five children, including a baby born in April. The tableau of everyday mom-ness, however, may have masked the ambition and grit that have marked Palin's meteoric rise in Alaska.

Two years ago, she knocked off the sitting Republican governor in the primary and a former Democratic governor in the general. Her relations with Alaska officialdom have not always been sunny, resuscitating a nickname given when, as a high schooler, she led her basketball team to the state championship: "Sarah Barracuda."

By her own telling, Palin's political rise has been improbable.

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