John Pitney, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College spoke to the annual VICA (Valley Industry and Commerce Association) meeting in Studio City last October on the coming presidential race and offered a surprise suggestion for a Republican Vice-Presidential candidate: Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Many of the attendees at the conference asked: Who? Many Americans this morning are probably asking the same question as John McCain announced he indeed selected Gov. Palin as his running mate.

Pitney said he looked to Palin at the time because “all the Republican presidential candidates were white males of a certain age and practical politics indicates you should balance the ticket.” Pitney said the issue of corruption in Washington D.C,. was high and Palin is seen as a reformer. “If you are looking for someone who is an outsider, you can’t get much farther than Alaska.”

Pitney added, “She was a reformer and someone who could excite the Republican base. She is pro-life and a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. If you Google her you’ll find images of her holding guns.”

Now that McCain has made the pick, Pitney says it is a “potentially terrific pick with  a big caveat.” How will she do in the debates and especially how will she do with the first questions she gets on national policy. If she makes mistakes early, Pitney says,  she could get a negative reputation that will be hard to shake.

The big question: will the selection of a first term, young, Alaska governor undercut McCain’s charge that Senator Barack Obama does not have the experience to be president? McCain turns 72 today and his Vice-Presidential pick will be one heart beat away.

Pitney acknowledged that argument is a potential liability for the Republican ticket. However, Pitney said, “If I were in charge of the talking points I would say that Sarah Palin has more executive experience than Obama and Biden put together.”