PUBLISHED: 5:25 PM on Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Former Ms. Wasilla ready to be called Mrs. Vice President
Gov. Sarah Palin once said there was too much work to be done in Alaska to even accept an offer for the vice presidency. But on Friday she was singing a new tune and hopped on the first plane out of Anchorage as Sen. Joh McCain's running mate in the upcoming presidential election.

  Gov. Sarah Palin
"It is a great privilege to be John McCain's running mate and to be considered by the American people for the Vice Presidency," Palin said. "This honor is a testament to the reforms and progress we have made together in Alaska. Now is the time to take that spirit of reform to Washington."

Palin, 44, said she will uphold her duties to Alaskans during the new two months as she hits the campaign trail.

"It is the honor of my life to represent you as your governor, and over the next two months I will continue to do so," she said in a statement. "As the mother of five, I know how to multi-task, and I will continue to promote the path of reform that we set out on together in the state of Alaska."

Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, who is awaiting the outcome of his national race against congressional incumbent Don Young, held a press conference in Anchorage later that day praising McCain's selection.

"This is a great day for Alaska," Parnell said. "There is no better person to tell Alaska's story to America than Governor Palin. Our reputation has been tarnished recently but now she will be able to speak about our energy resources and what we can offer to national energy independence."

Parnell expressed confidence in Palin's ability to rise to a national role.

"She is an executive by nature," he said. "She is able to communicate and make decisions by the information at hand."

Parnell is next in line to be governor of Alaska. But if McCain wins the November election and Palin becomes vice president - and Parnell is elected to Congress - Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg will become the interim governor of Alaska.

Within 90 days after Palin vacates the seat a special election would be held to elect a new governor.

Palin was en route to Pennsylvania Friday but remained in constant communication with her chief aids in Alaska, said Bill McAllister, Palin's communications director. Parnell has been taking Palin's place at previously scheduled functions.

Dr. David Noon, Univeristy of Alaska Southeast professor of American History, said selecting Palin as a running mate could help solidify McCain's standing among some voters while easing concerns about his age.

"McCain, if elected, will be the oldest president to take the oath of office," Noon said. "Now, 72 isn't ancient, but it does raise some concern. The selection of Palin undercuts that.

"What is appealing to McCain about Palin is she solidifies some domestic constituencies," Noon continued. "McCain didn't do as well with evangelical Christian voters and he wants to gobble up disaffected female voters from the democratic side."

McCain's decision to go with the young and influential up-and-comer has drawn high praise among Republicans. However, the recent investigation involving Palin's firing of former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan in July could make her a target.

Monegan has accused members of the Palin administration of harassing, and eventually firing, him for not taking action against state trooper Mike Wooten, Palin's former brother-in-law.

Palin said there was a smoking gun within her office acting without her consent. Frank Bailey, Palin's director of boards and commissions, made nearly two dozen phone calls to the Public Safety Department urging Wooten be fired on the governor's behalf. Palin has since suspended Baily while the investigation continues.

Noon said the investigation will likely have little impact on the presidential outcome.

"Alaska politics have become synonymous with corruption," he said. "It's hard to say at this point how much of a problem this will be. But historically, vice presidential candidates haven't played that large an impact. But it's tough to say. My cynical perspective thinks ... Republicans in Alaska have raised the bar as far as corruption is concerned and since she isn't alleged to have had her home remodeled, it doesn't appear as bad."

Talks of Palin being named as McCain's running mate have been widespread for months but few, including the governor herself, gave the rumors much thought at first.

"It seems so out of the realm of possibility," Palin said in June. "I feel like I don't even have to answer your question. At some point in my life, I would like to have an opportunity, if it's handed to me, to serve on a national level."

- Katie Spielberger contributed to this report.