State News

Palin dines with Rev. Billy Graham

Posted November 23, 2009 6:09 a.m. EST
Updated November 23, 2009 10:14 a.m. EST

— Sarah Palin had dinner with Rev. Billy Graham at his Montreat home Sunday, making a surprise stop on her national book tour.

The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee was greeted by Franklin Graham and a crowd of supporters when her plane touched down in rainy Asheville.

"My father's very excited about the governor. He's been following her over the last two years," said Franklin Graham, who extended the invitation to Palin.

The elder Graham had never met Palin, while his son had met her while working with the Samaritan's Purse relief agency in Alaska.

Billy Graham said it was an honor having Palin in his home to join his family for dinner and that they took the opportunity to pray together. Palin's parents, aunt, daughter Piper and son Trig were also at the dinner.

"I, like many people, have been impressed with her strong commitment to her faith, to family and love of country," he said in a statement. "I appreciated hearing her speak of her own spiritual journey and her life in Alaska."

Palin said the visit was about matters of faith, not her political future. Billy Graham has counseled and advised every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

"It will be a once in a lifetime honor to meet this man, Billy Graham, who's contributed so much to our world," Palin said at the airport.

Some supporters at the airport, though, were eager to send a political message to Palin.

"I really wanted to encourage her to run for president in 2012," supporter Kathy Skerl said.

"She lives by example, and she has the principles that the Republican Party needs today," supporter Richard Bernier said. "And we hope to draft her as president of the United States."

On Monday, Palin will sign copies of her memoir, "Going Rogue: An American Life," at Fort Bragg. The book signing goes from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The public is asked to meet no earlier than 9:30 a.m. at the Randolph Street gate. They should have identification and a copy of the book ready for signing.