I also do see Romney picking a woman as his running mate simply because of the circus that has surrounded Sarah Palin for the last 4 years. As you said, it seems the left and the leftist media have a special place in their hearts for launching attacks against female conservatives.
You know, I see conservatives complain about this a lot. Both sides are just as guilty. Conservatives and Fox News viciously attacked Hillary too, y'know. I think this particular issue has more to do with a lot of men in power not wanting to share that power with women, than left vs. right.
For what it's worth, the main thing that bothered me about Sarah Palin was that she's a moron. Although I will admit, the amount of times I read or saw someone talk about how they wanted to sleep with her was pretty disturbing too, but that wasn't her fault. I mean seriously, when Joe Biden makes you look stupid, that's pretty sad.
Given what sort of things Mitt has been saying for the last year or so, I would not consider him to be a moderate conservative. He used to be, for sure. But as someone else mentioned, he tries way too hard to pander to the extreme conservatives of the party, which is something McCain was guilty of as well. Frankly I wouldn't consider any of the Republican candidates to be moderates. If you support personhood bills, that essentially make birth control illegal, if you think Pres. Obama is a socialist, if you openly declare your disdain for *** people, etc., you are not a moderate you are a right wing nut job.