Alabama Republicans applaud McCain's VP pick

WASHINGTON (AP) - Alabama Republicans welcomed Sen. John McCain's surprise selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate, saying her positions align closely with those of Southern conservatives.

Democratic critics, including Rep. Artur Davis of Birmingham, countered that the selection of Palin - a former mayor with two years experience as governor - should mute any suggestions that the GOP ticket is better prepared to lead the Democratic ticket.

Many Republicans had worried that McCain would pivot toward the political center by selecting Democrat-turned-independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut or pick someone who supports abortion rights such as former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge.

But party leaders in Alabama said Friday that Palin is a strong fiscal and social conservative.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)