State News

Thousands cheer Palin during Bragg book-signing

Posted November 23, 2009 10:39 a.m. EST
Updated October 12, 2011 9:50 a.m. EDT

— Thousands of people braved a cold, drizzly Monday for a chance to meet former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who was signing copies of her memoir at a Fort Bragg store.

Some people camped out overnight, and the line snaked around the North Post-Exchange by the time Palin arrived at 11:15 a.m. The crowd chanted Palin's name when her "Going Rogue" tour bus pulled up outside the PX.

"We love Sarah because she's a woman and she's smart," Sandra Harvath said.

"She loves this country. I voted for her last time, and I'd vote for her (next) time if she ran again," Barbara Lewis said.

"She's a real down-to-earth woman – she's a classy woman when she needs to be – and she hunts moose," Henrietta Forsyth said.

Tony McGhee of Wilmington said he had waited outside the PX since about 10 p.m. Sunday.

"Look at it this way: You only have a limited amount of time to get the book signed. If you're in the front of the line, you're guaranteed to get the book signed," McGhee said.

Palin wasn't allowed to make a speech, pose for photos or personalize notes in the books she signed because the Army didn't want her appearance to prompt political grandstanding against President Barack Obama.

That fear initially led post commanders to limit news organizations interested in covering Palin, though the restrictions were later dropped. News coverage of her Fort Bragg stop included celebrity television shows "Entertainment Tonight" and "Insider."

Sixty-three-year-old Rosemary Haney of Fayetteville said she arrived nearly 24 hours before Palin's visit. Haney said she wanted to make sure she could meet Palin, adding that she hopes the former Alaska governor will run for president in 2012.

Palin's father, Chuck Heath, accompanied her to the event, and reporters asked him whether his daughter would be campaigning in 2012.

"I honestly don't know. All I can say is you haven't seen the last of her," Heath said. “When I’m with Sarah, believe it or not, we don’t talk politics. We talk family, we talk sports, we talk hunting, we talk fishing.”

Heath called "Going Rogue" very upfront and candid.

"She tells it the way it is. I haven't found any falsehoods or fallacies in there yet. She's a very honest person," he said.

Fort Bragg spokesman Tom McCollum estimated that 4,000 people showed up for the event, although many left without getting their books signed during Palin's three-hour visit.

Malan Heidenreich got more than an autographed book. She stood for four hours to get the cast on her leg signed.

"Actually, I asked, and she said, 'Absolutely.' So I stuck it up there," Heidenreich said.