Palin Visits Boston

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney kicked off his official presidential campaign Thursday with a speech in New Hampshire. Just an hour or so to the south, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was warming up for her own trip to New Hampshire — with a very different kind of event in Boston.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

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Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney kicked off his official presidential campaign with a speech in New Hampshire. And just an hour or so to the south, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was warming up for her own trip to New Hampshire with a very different kind of event in Boston.

Reporter Bianca Vazquez Toness of member station WBUR found Palin shaking hands with fans at one of the city's historic sites.

BIANCA VAZQUEZ TONESS: Sarah Palin and her small entourage rolled up to the Bunker Hill Monument today in a red Suburban. They walked through a sea of school-aged kids on field trips to the monument and stopped for photos.

Ms. SARAH PALIN: Thank you.

Unidentified Child #1: I like your shirt.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. PALIN: Can you tell I'm running out of clothes at the end of this tour?

(Soundbite of laughter)

TONESS: Palin was wearing a red T-shirt with The Learning Channel logo. That's the network that aired Palin's reality show about life in Alaska.

Reality show is one way to describe what Palin is doing now. Her own video crew is documenting the trip, and Palin talks about her One Nation bus tour as though she's a tour guide for the rest of America. She says some Americans aren't fortunate to live in Boston with lots of reminders of America's revolutionary history.

Ms. PALIN: Knowing the sacrifices that people made here in order to build this most exceptional nation that we're blessed to live in today, I don't want people to forget it.

TONESS: Palin told reporters her trip has nothing to do with running for president. But after Boston, she headed to New Hampshire. The very same afternoon, Mitt Romney was in New Hampshire launching his presidential campaign. So, is Palin trying to upstage Romney by going there too?

Ms. PALIN: It never was a consideration at all. In fact, if he personally would be offended by me stepping foot in a state that he is in, I wouldn't do it.

TONESS: Palin called this an important day for Romney and says he's a strong candidate, but he'll have a hard time attracting some voters.

Ms. PALIN: I think that he'll have maybe a bit more of a challenge with the independents who make up the Tea Party movement wanting to make sure that we won't have any excuses or perceived political reasons to grow government.

TONESS: Palin is talking about Romney's role in establishing universal health care in Massachusetts and specifically the individual mandate for everyone to buy health insurance here.

Ms. PALIN: In my opinion, any mandate coming from government is not a good thing.

TONESS: Palin says it's too early to talk about whether she would join a ticket with him.

New Hampshire resident Karen German was chaperoning her son's field trip to the monument when Palin's entourage and media followers walked by. The kids were starstruck.

Unidentified Child #2: You're the best. I'll miss you. You're the best.

TONESS: But German was highly skeptical. German says she wants a Republican with a strong business background and conservative principles. She would not vote for Palin.

Ms. KAREN GERMAN: I don't think she has a lot of credibility. No.

TONESS: Ronda Lee(ph) is from California. She loves Palin. Lee says Palin is her dream presidential candidate, but even she doesn't understand what this tour is about.

Ms. RONDA LEE: I really don't know why they do this. The same thing, Donald Trump, why did he do it? Attention. That's all I'm guessing.

TONESS: Whatever it is Palin is doing, the trip to Boston didn't look like a family vacation. Her daughter Piper stood by her side, looking miserable. She tugged on her mom's shirt every few minutes, saying: Mom, can we go now?

I'm Bianca Vazquez Toness for NPR News in Boston.

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