(CNN) – Count first lady Laura Bush among the many fans of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen. John McCain’s surprise pick for the number two spot on the Republican ticket.
“I’m so excited . . . about getting to vote for a Republican woman for vice president,” Laura Bush said Monday on American Morning. “I’m thrilled.”
Bush was particularly taken with Palin’s rugged Alaskan lifestyle. “I know how strong she is. I know what that kind of life in a state like Alaska is and the kind of women that state produces and I’m very thrilled that she’s on our ticket.”
The first lady also rejected the notion that Palin lacked the experience to serve as vice president and possibly as president if necessary.
“I think she has a lot of experience that none of the other three people who are on either ticket have,” Bush told CNN’s John Roberts.
“Mayors across the country will tell you that running a city, running a town is a totally different experience from any other kind of government,” the first lady added.
“I think she has a different experience. She’s the mother of five kids. She’s doing that while she’s worked . . . I just have a lot of admiration for her.”
Since McCain’s announcement late last week, Palin has proven popular with the Republican Party’s conservative base, a constituency McCain desperately needs in the general election match-up against Sen. Barack Obama. But, the little known Alaska governor has also faced criticism from Democrats for her lack of experience – especially on foreign policy issues – after the McCain campaign has argued for several months that Obama lacks sufficient experience to be president.