The Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, has been chosen by the presumptive Republican party nominee for President as his running mate.

Senator John McCain today announced that he has selected Governor Palin.

She is the first woman to be chosen for Vice President on a Republican ticket.

“I was just your average hockey mom in Alaska,” she said when she accepted his nomination.

“I got involved in the PTA, and was then elected to the city council, and then elected mayor of my home town, where my agenda was to stop wasteful spending, cut property taxes and put the people first,” she told a cheering crowd of supporters.

Flanked by Senator McCain, Governor Palin emphasised her work standing up to “business as usual.”

Watch her speech here.

“Governor Palin is a tough executive who has demonstrated during her time in office that she is ready to be President,” the McCain campaign team said in a statement.

“She has brought Republicans and Democrats together within her administration and has a record of delivering on the change and reform that we need in Washington.

“Governor Palin has challenged the influence of the big oil companies while fighting for the development of new energy resources.”

If elected, the former small town mayor would become the first woman to take office as Vice President.

Geraldine Ferraro, the only other female VP candidate from a major party, lost when she ran with Walter Mondale in 1984.

At 44 Governor Palin is three years younger than Barack Obama, who accepted the Democratic party’s nomination yesterday, and 28 years younger than Senator McCain.

She was elected Governor of Alaska less than two years ago.

Her selection indicates that the McCain campaign wanted a candidate as new to the American people as Barack Obama, who was first elected to the Senate in 2004.

“As the head of Alaska’s National Guard and as the mother of a soldier herself, Governor Palin understands what it takes to lead our nation and she understands the importance of supporting our troops,” a McCain campaign press release stated.

“Governor Palin has the record of reform and bipartisanship that others can only speak of. Her experience in shaking up the status quo is exactly what is needed in Washington today.”

Senator McCain and Governor Palin will be formally nominated as the Republican’s Presidential ticket at the party’s national convention in St Paul, Minnesota, next week.

Governor Palin’s husband, Todd, is a Yup’ik Alaskan native.

The eldest of her five children, 18-year-old Track, is due to begin his military service in Iraq next month.

Her younger son, born earlier this year, has Down’s Syndrome.

Her image as a hunting, shooting, snowmobile-riding outdoors woman helped boost her popularity in Alaska, but she is unknown nationally.

Governor Palin opposes abortion rights and supports the death penalty and Alaska’s ban on gay marriage.

While she claims to have gay friends and is receptive to arguments about discrimination, she said she would support a statewide ballot question in Alaska that would deny benefits to homosexual couples.

“I believe that honouring the family structure is that important,” she told the Anchorage Daily News in 2006.

However, she later reluctantly agreed to follow the state Supreme Court ruling that same sex partners should receive equal benefits to heterosexual couples.