From CBS News' John Bentley:
(DAYTON, OHIO) -- In a decision that surprised almost everyone in the political establishment, John McCain announced Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate today. "She's exactly who I need," McCain said as he introduced her. "She's exactly who this country needs."
Palin arrived on stage with her husband and four children, telling the crowd that their oldest son is serving in Iraq. "It was Sen. McCain who refused to hedge his support for our troops in Iraq, regardless of the political costs," she said. "As the mother of one of those troops, and as the commander of Alaska's National Guard, that's the kind of man I want as our commander in chief."
She also mentioned the women who preceded her in national politics, Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton. The McCain campaign has made no secret of actively courting disaffected Hillary voters, and Palin made sure to speak directly to them. "It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America," Palin said. "But it turns out the women of America aren't finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all."
While the Democrats were just as surprised as everyone else by the announcement, they wasted no time in criticizing Palin. "After trying to make experience the issue of this campaign, John McCain celebrated his 72nd birthday by appointing a former small town mayor and brand new governor as his vice-presidential nominee," Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Il., said. "Is this really who the Republican Party wants to be one heartbeat away from the presidency? Given Sarah Palin's lack of experience on every front and on nearly every issue, this vice-presidential pick doesn't show judgment: it shows political panic."
The McCain campaign responded that even though Palin is a first term governor, she has more experience than Obama. "It is pretty audacious for the Obama campaign to say that Gov. Palin is not qualified to be vice-president. She has a record of accomplishment that Sen. Obama simply cannot match," said McCain spokesman Jill Hazelbaker. "Gov. Palin has spent her time in office shaking up government in Alaska and actually achieving results – whether it's taking on corruption, passing ethics reform or stopping wasteful spending and the 'bridge to nowhere.' Senator Obama has spent his time in office running for President."