DAYTON _ After all the hand wringing over whether John McCain would pick a pro choice moderate, conservatives are rapidly coalescing behind his selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, calling it a transformational pick that immediately shakes up the race.
With this choice, McCain has managed to create history with just the second woman on a presidential ticket while still pleasing the conservative base that has been worried about where the maverick was heading with his VP process.
"She completes a strong ticket that will bring a real record of change and reform to Washington,” said Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). "Governor Palin is a strong conservative with executive experience who has cut wasteful spending, opposed earmarks and shown courage in taking on corruption in her own party. She is a strong defender of traditional family values, with an unquestioned commitment to protect life."
Rep. Michele Bachmann, a freshman Republican from Minnesota, says Palin brings a lot to the table, even though she's lacking in executive experience and doesn't have national name recognition.
"Like me, Palin is a devoted mother of five who understands the importance of pro-life and pro-family values," Bachmann said. "She’s proven herself to be a strong leader in Alaska, taking on pork barrel spending and making fiscal responsibility a top priority"
And Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), herself once on the short list of VP candidates, told MSNBC that the pick was "a breath of fresh air" and just the "surprise" that the McCain camp needs to drive the conversation.
Several GOP members of Congress say that the Palin pick was a watershed moment for the Republican party.
"Senator McCain made a bold choice that will provide a strong, balanced alternative to the competition offered by the other side," said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). "Once again, Senator McCain has shown the sort of creative leadership and independent thinking that will serve us well in the White House. Every presidential race is one for the history books, but this truly is a watershed moment for our nation.”
One senior GOP Senate aide said that even though everyone is surprised this morning, it's still a "smart pick, she completely changes the narrative."
And the aide played down the ongoing investigation into whether Palin improperly tried to have her ex brother in law, an Alaska state trooper, fired.
"Reformers love this pick," the aide said. "Obama needed to put experience on the ticket; McCain already had it. He had the luxury of being able to pick the candidate he wanted, not the one he needed."