Palinmania Eclipses Obamamania

11 Sep


We’ve been through Obamamania. Now a new phenomenon is sweeping America – Palinmania.

Even before Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska had appeared on the stage to introduce Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, the chant went up around the hall: “We want Sarah!”

A tear rolled down the cheek of a middle-aged woman volunteer who moments earlier had been barking orders to keep the exits clear.

A mother clutched the hand of her 11-year-old daughter, whose face was made up like a clown with stars and the letters P-A-L-I-N painted across her face.

Outside, queues which began six hours earlier snaked around the sports hall as more than 9,000 people filed in. Hundreds would be left outside.

They held home-made signs with slogans like “God, guns, lipstick” and “Read my lipstick – Palin.”

One beaming woman wearing a “USA” baseball cap had scrawled a on a piece of cardboard: “A Real Woman = Governor, mom, CEO, pro-Life, God fearing, happy. GO SARAH!”

A vendor had run out of badges with Mrs Palin’s picture and the legend: “Coldest State, Hottest Governor.”

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said G. Edward LeFevre, a local Republican committee member. “The crowd, the enthusiasm, the upbeat feel and the emotion is unprecedented. Sarah Palin is quite a lady.”

Then the 44-year-old mother of five appeared, with her husband Todd, also 44, and Mr McCain, 72, alongside her.

The crowd went wild, the screaming and cheering eventually subsiding into a steady cry in unison of: “Sarah, Sarah, Sarah!”

The Arizona senator, who just weeks ago was being greeted by crowds in the low hundreds, beamed like a father of the bride at the handsome young couple beside him, basking in the reflected glory of the woman he has brought into the world of presidential politics.

Mrs Palin spoke for 15 minutes, every sentence read from the teleprompter. The words were familiar because she gives the same similar speech at every stop.

She described how she “stood up to the special interests, the lobbyists, big oil companies and the good old boys network” as mayor of the small town of Wasilla and as Alaska governor.

She hailed Mr McCain as a selfless hero, someone who “would rather lose an election than see his country lose a war”.

“In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain who use their careers to promote change,” she said.

If Mr McCain was worried about being overshadowed by his number two, he did not show it. “Thank you,” he said five times. “Thank you to each and every one of you. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be introduced by Governor Palin today and I can’t wait to introduce her to Washington DC.

“We are the ones who will change Washington. She is the one who’s changed Alaska. She is the one that took on the old bulls in the Republican Party that cleaned up the state of Alaska and she’ll clean up Washington and we’ll restore trust and confidence in government and again on the part of the American people.”

Luke Hertzog, 53, said that McCain’s choice of Mrs Palin as his running mate was a “stroke of genius – she brings a new life, a vigour and energy and spine” to the campaign.

Mr LeFevre pronounced it a “clever chess move” that could upturn the conventional wisdom that a vice-presidential choice never really affects the outcome of the White House race.

Almost every woman asked about Mrs Palin used the word “real” to describe her.

“We can relate to her,” said Lori Ciarrocca, 40. “She’s like other moms out there. She’s a real person who speaks her mind and tells you how it is.”

Tom Bross, 62, a Vietnam veteran who was twice wounded in combat, said that it was not just women she appealed to.

“She’s going to get a lot of the women who went for Hillary Clinton,” he said.

“There are old rednecks who would have thrown me out of the local restaurant two weeks ago if I’d said they’d ever vote for a woman

“Now Sarah Palin comes along and they’re like a bunch of school kids tripping over themselves to listen to her.”


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