US Republican presidential candidate John McCain has chosen Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate, a senior McCain campaign official said Friday.
Mr McCain was to introduce his choice at an event today at midday in Dayton, Ohio.
Ms Palin, 44, was a relatively surprising pick, but one aimed at appealing to women voters who might have been disillusioned by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s decision to pick Joe Biden as his No 2 instead of Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton of New York.
Mr McCain and Ms Palin, face the Democratic nominee Barack Obama and his No 2, veteran Sen Joe Biden, in the November 4 election.
“She will be his partner in reforming Washington,” said the senior McCain official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
By announcing his pick today, Mr McCain was hoping to divert attention from the Democratic convention in Denver, which concluded on Thursday night with a speech by Obama.
The Democratic candidate opened a broad assault on Mr McCain, accusing him of following the policies of unpopular President George W Bush.
“This is a bold choice of a strong conservative who is a reformer and will be greeted by the delegates in St Paul with enthusiasm,” said Republican strategist Scott Reed.
Mr McCain is preparing to accept his party’s nomination for president at the Republican convention in St Paul, Minnesota, next week.
Earlier as Mr McCain prepared to announce his vice presidential running mate his campaign closely guarded the big secret.
Amid intense speculation about who he might have decided on, one top contender, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, told a Minneapolis radio station he would not be in Dayton, Ohio, with Mr McCain for the announcement.
The Fox News Channel reported that another frequently mentioned possibility, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, also was not Mr McCain’s choice.
There was speculation about other possible candidates on morning US television, including Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. She surfaced as a result of a Fox report that said a private jet from Alaska landed at an airport about 25 miles from Dayton.
The McCain campaign refused to say who the Arizona senator had selected to join him in his campaign.
He and his campaign have worked hard to remain in the public eye during the Democratic convention.
As Mr Obama prepared to deliver a speech at a Denver football stadium accepting his party’s nomination, Mr McCain issued a television ad congratulating him.
“Senator Obama, this is truly a good day for America,” McCain said in the ad. “Too often the achievements of our opponents go unnoticed. So I wanted to stop and say, congratulations.”
He added: “Tomorrow, we’ll be back at it. But tonight, Senator, job well done.”