Hundreds Wait In Mich. Cold To See Sarah Palin

Grand Rapids, Michigan, was the first stop on Sarah Palin's Going Rouge book tour. The former governor of Alaska and vice presidential candidate signed copies of her book. Palin fans had waited in line all day for a chance to see her.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Fans of Sarah Palin waited in line all day in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They wanted a chance to see the former vice presidential candidate turned author. Palin was signing copies of her book, "Going Rogue."

NPR's David Schaper was there to watch.

DAVID SCHAPER: The area of Western Michigan around Grand Rapids has long been a Republican stronghold, best known as the hometown of President Gerald Ford.

Professor GLENN BARKAN (Political Science, Aquinas College): I think Gerald Ford was known as a more moderate Republican - decent, fair, unassuming.

SCHAPER: And more pragmatic than ideological, says Glenn Barkan, a political science professor at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids. But that doesn't mean its not a prime location for Sarah Palin. Just ask 81-year-old Jean Dolman(ph).

Ms. JEAN DOLMAN: I think she is a honest person. I think she tells it like it is. I just think she's a super person, and I - she has a Lord now, too, and that makes a difference.

SCHAPER: While many Republicans in this part of Michigan have voted for moderate candidates, it's also home to a sizable number of Evangelical Christians who have moved the GOP here to the right. So it's little surprise to find people Dolman and her 72-year-old sister Rachel Berriger(ph) patiently waiting in line in this shopping mall since 6 a.m. for a book signing that didn't begin until 12 hours later.

Ms. RACHEL BERRRIGER: She really loves America. She could be your next door neighbor and probably�

Ms. DOLMAN: Common person.

Ms. BERRRIGER: �and she believes in right to life.

SCHAPER: College students Chris Contreras(ph) and Angela Coli(ph) want more than just a book from Sarah Palin. They want a presidential candidate.

Mr. CHRIS CONTRERAS: Everything she does is honest and upfront. I don't think you can say that about any other politicians right now.

Ms. ANGELA COLI: She's speaking up for all the conservative values that we need right now in our country, and she's a good role model, as well.

(Soundbite of cheering)

SCHAPER: When Palin arrived in her "Going Rogue" bus that's painted to look like her book cover, she addressed a crowd of a few hundred admirers waiting outside of the mall here.

Ms. SARAH PALIN (Former Republican Governor, Alaska): There's just something about Michigan. I couldn't wait to get back to Michigan.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Ms. PALIN: Alaska and Michigan, so much in common with the hunting and the fishing and the hockey moms.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Ms. PALIN: And it's the hardworking, patriotic Americans who are here.

SCHAPER: Inside the Barnes and Noble bookstore, Palin signed books for two hours. Hundreds of people didn't get in, but few seemed disappointed. Even one Obama supporter came away impressed. Twenty-five-year old Amanda Leanne Bronzel(ph) interned in the local Obama campaign office last year, but she stood in line all day to meet Palin and get a book signed for her father, a Palin backer, who couldn't go.

Ms. AMANDA LEANNE BRONZEL: She is a little wet behind the ears, but I think that she could make a very wonderful president one day.

SCHAPER: Few others at this book signing could find anything to dislike about Palin, who continues her book tour today in similar Midwestern conservative strongholds that appear to be carefully chosen to both maximize sales and test the waters with the GOP base.

David Schaper, NPR News in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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