Palin Phenom Runs through Roanoke

Although readers of this blog know that I remain skeptical of Sarah Palin’s long term political future, I still like her and her politics. I believe that she has strayed a bit too far from her initial image as a conservative reformer, though this was largely due to both the media’s attacks and the ensuing defense by conservatives. However, I still admire both her personal tenacity, her “tell it like it is” mentality, and her fiscal conservative credentials.

I was going to try to hit her book tour stop in Roanoke, but alas, I had the date wrong and a previous engagement doing some new media work for a local historic site. More on that later, but there’s hard evidence that Sarah remains a true phenomenom amongst Virginia conservatives. From Roanoke.com:

By 9 a.m., an hour before Sarah Palin’s scheduled arrival, 700 people had received wristbands for Palin to sign their books (the crowd was divided into seven groups of 100). About 300 or more people are still waiting for wristbands, though they won’t be given them until Palin starts signing copies of her “Going Rogue” memoir.

Debbie Turner, 53, of Wytheville, was one of the last people to get a wristband. “She’s fresh, she’s new, she has the same ideals that I have, and she’s my hero,” Turner said on why she wants to meet Palin. “They talked about change last year, and she’s the change we need.”

……

1:14 p.m.: With more than 1,000 people lined up outside the Valley View Barnes & Noble Sunday, the Panera Bread restaurant across the parking lot braced for a surge.

The store added five extra workers on each shift and ordered 40 percent more food for the day, said Russell Kidd, regional manager.

This Panera’s up about 30 percent in sales today, with “quite a chunk” of customers coming from the Palin signing, he said.

Almost every table was full in the restaurant at 1 p.m.

The restaurant opened an hour earlier than usual, at 6:30 a.m.


They also spoke to those brave souls who lined up outside the store last night and who were gifted with a visit by the lady herself around midnight:

Sarah Palin made a surprise appearance Saturday evening at the Valley View Mall Barnes & Noble ahead of her scheduled book signing Sunday morning.

…..

“She got out of the bus and she said, ‘I feel guilty that I’m going to a nice warm hotel and you all are out here in the cold. But I just want you to know how much I appreciate you being there for me,'” said Beth Warren, of Franklin County, as she showed off cell phone pictures of Palin’s impromptu arrival in her blue “Going Rogue” tour bus.

It sounds like things went right here, in a Republican hotbed (the Roanoke Valley writ large, not the city) that drew out 16,000 people to see her during the heat of last year’s campaign. Again, I’m not sure what to make of her quite yet, but as Jerry put it:

You realize, of course, that even Obama doesn’t draw this kind of exuberance.

A sixty-one year-old woman (along with three hundred other freezing enthusiasts) camped out overnight in front of Barnes & Noble, for God’s sake, just to have ten seconds with a former governor.  And a  fifty-three year-old wants her dog to meet Ms. Palin.  What?!

There is something going on here.  Sarah Palin has struck a cord.  A kinship like I haven’t seen before.

Where does it take her?  Who knows.

Strap yourself in.  This is going to be one wild ride.

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