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Local Republicans happy with McCain's choice as running mate

POSTED: September 2, 2008 5:01 a.m.

U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Ga., said he had heard his Alaska colleague talk about the state's maverick governor but knew little more about Sarah Palin, who was named Friday by Sen. John McCain's as his vice presidential running mate.

"I don't know much about her and I don't think anybody does," Deal said. "She is a conservative and a reformer, because that's the way she got elected. She also is a fiscal conservative and is against earmarks."

He said that she should satisfy concerns that the GOP believes a woman is capable of holding the second-highest office in the land.

Deal said Palin will balance the ticket with McCain.

"She is certainly an outsider," Deal said. "Even though she has limited experience in the governor's office, she has made some changes that people of her state believe are on the right track."

In a joint statement released by their offices, Georgia's U.S. senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, applauded the choice.

"Gov. Palin is a fiscal conservative, pro-life, pro-family, Second Amendment advocate, ethics in government champion, and dedicated to increasing our domestic energy production," they said in the statement.

Josh Turner, chairman of the White County Republican party and a delegate to next week's Republican National Convention, also was happy with the choice.

"I was hoping for a female candidate," Turner said. "My first choice was (Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice, but I think Gov. Palin will do a fine job.

While the news of Palin's selection caught Georgians off guard, it was also a shock in the Alaska capital city of Juneau.

A former Georgia newspaper publisher who is now publisher of the Juneau Empire said he was awakened at 6:30 a.m. Alaska time by a call from a friend in Texas telling him Palin was McCain's choice.

"We had no idea whatsoever," said Robert O. Hale, publisher of the newspaper that serves the capital of 30,000 people at the southeastern corner of the state.

"The mayor (of Juneau) is a former state attorney general, and when I told him, it shocked him," Hale said.

The newspaper, which publishes six days a week, does not have a Saturday edition. Hale was scrambling to publish an extra edition and plans to help deliver it himself.

"The governor is very visible in Juneau when the legislature is in session," Hale said. "She came out of nowhere three years ago and ran away with a primary race. People were asking, ‘Who is Sarah Palin and where did she come from?'"

He said she is very politically savvy and is very tough.

"She's not going to let anyone push her around," he said.

Hale said there are times when Palin is seen around town without her security detail and goes to her children's sporting events.

Former Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox, who was the first woman elected to statewide office in the executive branch, said she hopes Palin is judged on her true credentials.

"I don't know anything about her," Cox said, "but I hope she will be evaluated on her skills in leading and inspiring the American people, her viewpoints on policy, her experience in governance, her knowledge of foreign policy and national defense, and her overall readiness to assume the presidency, rather than on her appearance, her attire, her husband, and other irrelevant factors that are too often used to judge women candidates."

Cox, who made an unsuccessful bid for governor in 2006, now is president of Young Harris College.



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