Palin Kicks Off Tour with Huge Crowds
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - It was 4:55 a.m. when the first cheer went up.
"Sarah! Sarah! Sarah!"
The thermometer had dipped into the 30s, but the 500 or so people in line didn't mind the sleepless night or the onset of winter.
"What she represents is what we're standing in line for," said Robin Case, 44, of Traverse City, Mich., who set up a chair and sleeping bag at 9 p.m. Tuesday to make sure she got the chance to meet Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate. "She's real and she's standing up for what we believe in."
Palin was scheduled to begin her "Going Rogue" book tour at the Barnes&Noble Booksellers in suburban Grand Rapids.
In a Facebook posting, Palin explained her decision to make Michigan the first stop on her tour.
"I'm starting in Michigan, and you'll understand why when you read the book. Last year, I made a promise to the good people of Michigan that I would be back, and now I'm keeping that promise," she said. "Michigan is near and dear to my family's heart! Our eldest son, Track, lived with a great host family there during his hockey days."
By 7 a.m., the line had swelled to more than 1,500 people as Barnes&Noble wrapped orange wristbands around Palin fans' wrists.
Pamela Lincoln, 50, of Canton, borrowed her father's snowmobile pants and boots, set up a chair at midnight and figured she was the warmest person in line.
It's been a year of firsts for Lincoln. She attended her first tea party in Plymouth this summer and Wednesday marked her first overnight foray for a signature.
"This is someone who is going to be iconic in the history of the United States. How could I not come," she said. "We have to get politically active and take the country back."
Kelsey Vigmostad, 18, Nichole Perrine, 19 and Laura Lomik, 19, all of Brighton were the first ones in line to get wristbands, which would allow them a few moments with Palin.
"I like to say I voted for Palin and John McCain came along for the ride," Lomik said. "I'm a huge conservative."
Karen Hughes, 53, and her 12-year-old daughter Katie Hughes made the three-hour drive from Ortonville Tuesday and got in line at 3 a.m.
Karen Hughes was a longtime Democrat who switched parties to vote for McCain and Palin, "And I don't think I'm going back."
Katie is such a huge Palin fan that she's pasted a Palin poster on her bedroom ceiling so the politician is the last thing she sees at night and the first thing in the morning.
"Her words come from her heart, not a teleprompter," Katie said.
Perhaps scoring the biggest points in the line, though, was Brandon Greer, a 31-year-old teacher from Kentwood.
He voted for Barack Obama for president and doesn't really like Palin very much.
But his girlfriend Kelli Waller, a nurse from Waterford, is a diehard Republican and loves Palin. He got in line at 3:30 a.m. to save a spot for her.
"She's very Republican and I love her in spite of that fact," he said. "I'll gladly give up my spot in line when she gets here in an hour."