McCain rallies behind his selection of Palin

St Paul: Minnesota: Republican John McCain rallied behind his vice presidential pick Sarah Palin on Tuesday and his campaign accused Democrat Barack Obama of aaaism for questioning her level of experience.

His comments came as the Republican convention to nominate McCain and Palin as their party's candidates was to finally get started after a delay due to Hurricane Gustav with President George W. Bush to speak via satellite hookup.

McCain in Cleveland said he was excited about Alaska Gov. Palin and predicted a warm welcome for her from Republican delegates when she addressed the convention on Wednesday.

"America's excited and they're going to be even more excited once they see her tomorrow night" he told reporters. "I'm very very proud of the impression that she's made on all of America and I'm looking forward to serving with her."

Palin's disclosure that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is pregnant in addition to the news that she had hired a private lawyer in an ethics probe in Alaska led some to raise questions about McCain's judgment and how thoroughly her background was examined in selecting the relatively unknown governor last week as his No. 2.

"My vetting process was completely thorough and I'm grateful for the results" McCain told reporters in Philadelphia after a visit with firefighters.

McCain's campaign fought back hard after Obama told CNN on Monday that Palin's level of experience as a former mayor of tiny Wasilla Alaska did not match his own citing the size of his campaign.

When Palin was announced Friday Republicans welcomed her entry into the presidential race against Obama and Joe Biden in the Nov. 4 election as bringing a burst of energy to the McCain campaign.

They like her anti-abortion pro-guns stances and her history of government reform in Alaska in her two years as the state's governor.

There was every indication that McCain and other Republicans were standing by their woman despite the hubbub.

"He absolutely keeps her" said Larry Sabato a political science professor at the University of Virginia. "If he drops her the election is over. There's zero chance that he'll drop her."