"I'm not sure what she brings to the ticket other than she's a woman and a conservative. Well, she's a better speaker than McCain," Faye Palin said with a laugh. "People will say she hasn't been on the national scene long enough. But I believe she's a quick study."
She said people doubted Sarah Palin when she ran for City Council, but that her daughter-in-law had a "singular focus."
"She was out there with [then-young son] Track, pulling him around from house to house in a wagon," she said.
Sarah Palin is well known as a former high school basketball star, cross-country runner, beauty queen, hockey mom, city council member and Wasilla's mayor from 1996 to 2007.
"I think it's great. She's a hometown girl from Smallville, USA," said Felix Bruno, 43, a masonry contractor who plowed her driveway. "She's not afraid to speak her mind. She really dropped the hammer on the politicians fleecing Alaska."
At the local Mat-Su Family Restaurant in downtown Wasilla, a Bible-study group that includes two ex-mayors from neighboring cities cheered her pick as McCain's running mate.
"She's an excellent social conservative, fiscal conservative and political conservative," said Tom Baird, 68, a Vietnam veteran who sat with his Gideon Bible opened to 1Corinthians. "If she can energize the conservative base, it won't matter if she gets the women's vote."
"This is a really nice person, and she's disarming in that way," said George Carte, 67, a retired geophysicist who was mayor of neighboring Palmer when Palin was mayor of Wasilla.
"I was very impressed with her as mayor," said Carte. "She did some housecleaning with her department heads. She had to learn about the sewers, the libraries, public safety."
But even with her impressive approval rating, Palin still has work to do even in her own hometown.
"I'm still leaning toward Obama. I think Sarah has been really good for our state, and it would be wonderful to see her in the White House, but she's on the ticket with McCain, and I can't vote for McCain," said Eileen Moe, 33, a second grade teacher at Iditarod Elementary, which Palin's kids attended.
"If it was her running for president, there'd be no question in my mind," Moe said. "The Republicans right now are about big business and big oil. I don't see Sarah as a staunch Republican in that way."
Not everyone is convinced her experience as mayor and governor are enough for a vice president who would be next in line to the presidency.
"I wouldn't say she's qualified," said Bill Gleason, 60, a contractor from nearby Big Lake. "I want someone with a little more experience. "