I first heard of Palin approx. 6 to 8 months ago, before McCain was even the presumptive nominee. I loved what I heard of her, yet didn't dream she could make it onto the ticket this year.
Another awesome Republican woman to remember is U.S. Representative Heather Wilson of New Mexico. Wikipedia:
Born in Keene, New Hampshire, Wilson joined the United States Air Force at the age of seventeen, graduating four years later as a Distinguished Graduate (magna cum laude equivalent) from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1982. A Rhodes Scholar, she continued her education at Jesus College, Oxford University, earning a D.Phil.. in International Relations.As a measure of already existing Dem fear of Rep. Wilson: she's already been subjected - a la Governor Palin - to baseless, politically motivated charges of wrongdoing. Rep. Wilson has not been cyber gang raped, but she has been preemptively cyber raped. It's a kind of badge of honor for her, imo. And it won't work: her biography tells us she will not be intimidated.
Upon leaving the Air Force in 1989, Wilson became Director for European Defense Policy and Arms Control on the National Security Council. After leaving government, she founded Keystone International, Inc. in 1991 to promote business development in the United States and Russia. She was the Secretary of the New Mexico Children, Youth and Family Department under Governor Gary Johnson.