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 as U.S. Sen. John McCain's choice to be 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, adding that 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, said he 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."
Paul Stanley, chairman of the Hall County Republican party, also said he was pleased with McCain's choice.
"Gov. Palin, a mother of five, lifetime member of the NRA and a stalwart conservative Republican, represents the kind of leadership the national GOP needs," Stanley said in a statement.
While the news of Palin's selection caught Georgians off guard, it was also a shock in Alaska's 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 tough and politically savvy.
"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.
A Gainesville native who has lived in Alaska for more than 40 years said Palin has proven to be a popular governor. Mariben Hulsey O'Brien, who lives in Anchorage, is not excited about Palin as vice president, though.
"I'm not thrilled," O'Brien said. "I think she's done a very good job as governor. But McCain is 72 years old and we who are over 65 never know what might happen to us. If something happened to McCain, she only has the experience of being a mayor and she only became governor because (Gov. Frank) Murkowski did such a lousy job."
She said Palin's administration had been without controversy until the firing of the state's public safety director earlier this year, which is being investigated by Alaska lawmakers.
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, is now president of Young Harris College.