Saturday, November 27, 2010

Large crowd welcomes Gov. Palin at Nebraska bookstore (Updated)

The line grew to more than 1,000 by early afternoon
Sarah Palin began her three-hour book signing appearance in Norfolk, Nebraska Saturday morning by thanking the many fans who were waiting in line for her at the Hastings bookstore. The Norfolk Daily News covered the event. Gov. Palin, who arrived in the northeast Nebraska city Friday night, signed books for three hours at the store Saturday:

The Daily News has a gallery of photos from the event here.

Norfolk is the state's tenth-largest city. Why didn't she stop in a larger metropolitan area such as Omaha instead? Robynn Tysver of the Omaha Wold Herald suggests that it may be because Madison County, in which Norfolk is located, "is one of the reddest counties in a very red state":
Whatever the reason, Palin is THE buzz in Norfolk.

Her scheduled Saturday stop, part of the former Alaska governor's 35-city book tour, has generated considerable interest in the northeast Nebraska town. Local Republicans' phones began ringing last week as word spread.

“It's not very often you live in Norfolk, Neb., and someone like Sarah Palin comes to a book signing. It's a first. Nothing like this has happened,” said Robert Dover, vice chairman of the Madison County Republicans and a Palin fan.


The county has one of the state's highest concentrations of Republicans — about 58 percent of its registered voters. Twenty-five percent of Madison County registered voters call themselves Democrats.


In Nebraska politics, Madison County is key to Republicans running statewide. It has a strong county party, with a muscular fundraising arm and the ability to recruit strong local candidates and volunteers, said Jordan McGrain, executive director of the Nebraska Republican Party.

“If you're a Republican and seeking statewide office, gauging your support and testing your message, Madison County is a good place to start,” McGrain said. “It is a bit of a testing ground.”
Several of the fans she met in the bookstore told the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate that they hoped she would make a run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012:
“Run in 2012,” urged Steve Hughes, 57, of Lincoln as Palin signed a book for him.

Palin's response was neither a “no” nor a “yes.”

“I appreciate your encouragement,” she told Hughes and several other people who urged her to run.


Her visit to this northeast Nebraska city had all the markings of a Black Friday frenzy.

Die-hard fans began assembling outside the Hastings Entertainment book and video store the night before, braving frigid temperatures to be near the front of the line.

By the time Palin arrived, nearly 500 people were standing outside, wrapped around the store and onto a neighboring sidewalk. The line grew to more than 1,000 by early afternoon.


Christine Boone is one Nebraskan who thinks Palin should run.

Boone, 44, of Plainview arrived at the Norfolk store about 9 p.m. Friday with two friends. They wanted to be first in line.

“I admire her core values. She doesn't let people rile her up,” Boone said.

“To those that say she can't win (the presidency), I think they're scared she will,” she added.
Gov. Palin met with Republican Mike Flood of Norfolk, speaker of the Nebraska Legislature and some local dignitaries before she began signing books. Flood said the meeting was a brief one because the former Alaska governor did not want her fans to have to wait in the cold. The next stop on her tour is a signing event in Des Moines, where speculation is high that she might enter the Iowa caucuses in 2012.

Update: Sioux City television station KCAU reports that Gov. Palin's visit "spiked" the Norfolk, Nebraska economy.

- JP

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