McCain Veepstakes: All signs point to Alaska Gov. Palin

A darkhorse Republican vice presidential candidate has emerged from a crowded field of conservative middle-aged white guys to complete the 2008 McCain ticket.

Our Washington Independent colleague Matthew DeLong has the skinny:

The cable news networks are currently transfixed with a mysterious Gulfstream jet that arrived at a private airport in nearby Middletown, Ohio late yesterday from Anchorage, Alaska — the home of Gov. Sarah Palin, who was also mentioned as a potential running mate.

From Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic:

Thanks to the readers who pointed me to the journey of a sturdy Gulfstream 5 with the [tail] number of N22GY. Anchorage, Alaska to Hook Municipal Field in Ohio. Nearby Dayton. 30 miles away. And the plane was in Flagstaff, AZ recently. [McCain reportedly met with potential veeps at his residence near Sedona yesterday.]

And where was the plane registered? To an entity called Gypsy Two LLC. It shares an address with a tax exempt organization called the Dean Weidner foundation. Dean Weidner is a Republican donor.. and a guy named William Weidner, the CEO of Las Vegas Sands corp, is a McCain bundler.

Palin, a young, pro-life governor with a reputation as a reformer — she came to prominence as a whistle-blower in a state famous for corruption and patronage — would be the dark horse of dark horses. If she is selected, it could indicate the McCain campaign is looking to pull some moderate women — namely former supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton — to his column.

She may prove a solid middle ground choice in McCain’s efforts to court moderates and pro-life conservatives. However, she could also undercut McCain’s message of experience versus youth — a first-term governor who is younger than Obama would be one step away from the presidency.

Read more of Matt’s analysis of the McCain campaign’s expected announcement at Happy Birthday, Sen. McCain! (And Veepstakes Roundup)