Sarah Palin's Star Shines On John McCain The losing 2008 Republican presidential ticket is back on the campaign trail. John McCain and Sarah Palin are campaigning together in Arizona this weekend as McCain faces a serious challenge from the right of his own party.

Sarah Palin's Star Shines On John McCain

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

You don't often see a losing presidential ticket back on the campaign trail together again, but John McCain and Sarah Palin are. Mr. McCain faces a serious challenge from his own party, so he and former Governor Palin are campaigning together this weekend in Arizona. NPR's Ted Robbins has the story.

TED ROBBINS: A couple of thousand people drove to the Pima County Fairgrounds outside Tucson Friday afternoon. They knew it was a rally for John McCain, but they had another name on their minds.

Unidentified Man: Sarah.

ROBBINS: What about McCain?

Unidentified Man: Sarah.

ROBBINS: Not McCain, huh?

Unidentified Man: Sarah.

ROBBINS: The large bearded guy in a motorcycle jacket wasn't alone.

Unidentified Woman: Sarah Palin, for me anyway.

(Soundbite of applause)

Governor SARAH PALIN (Republican, Alaska): Thank you so much, Arizona. Thank you.

ROBBINS: Sarah Palin came onstage in the county fair hall with a throng standing before her. She was joined by her husband Todd, along with John and Cindy McCain. She didn't mention McCain's move to the right in recent months. Instead, she tried to bring him into the Tea Party fold she embraces.

Gov. PALIN: You know what? Everybody here today supporting John McCain, we are all part of that Tea Party movement.

ROBBINS: Palin said the four-term senator's reputation for going against the grain sometimes against his own party proves he's still the outsider Tea Party supporters want.

Gov. PALIN: Before there were protests on Main Street or marches on Capitol Hill, there was the maverick of the Senate fighting for us. John's been leading the fight against waste and fraud and reckless spending for decades.

ROBBINS: Voter Bill Hallett listened not yet convinced, but hopeful.

Mr. BILL HALLETT (Voter): Maybe we can switch him over a little bit more to the conservative side.

ROBBINS: Does her support make a difference for him?

Mr. HALLETT: I think so. Yes, very definitely.

ROBBINS: If Palin's conservative credibility rubs off on McCain, it could mean trouble for McCain's opponent, former congressman and radio talk show host J.D. Hayworth. Hayworth bills himself as the consistent conservative. He says Palin's support for McCain is just political payback.

After all, McCain introduced then-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to the nation less than two years ago. Since then, there have been books and magazine pieces recalling friction between the McCain and Palin camps. But the two say that was just campaign carping. McCain's wife Cindy even told the crowd that she and her husband are still friends with the Palins. The senator echoed that.

(Soundbite of cheers)

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona): I want to tell you again, when Sarah and Todd agreed to join me and Cindy on the ticket, she energized America and she still does today, and I am proud of Sarah Palin and I know you are too, to have her continue speaking out for the things we believe in.

(Soundbite of cheering)

ROBBINS: Palin made news this week with the announcement of a reality TV show called "Sarah Palin's Alaska." Her political action committee is also targeting 17 vulnerable Democratic members of Congress who voted for the health care overall, including three from Arizona. McCain seized on the health care overall as well. He vowed to continue fighting it.

Sen. MCCAIN: We're going to take on this Obamacare and we're going to take it on in the courts because it's unconstitutional. We're going to take it on in the Senate.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Sen. MCCAIN: We're going to take it on in the streets. We're going to take it on in voter registration. And my friends, we're going to take it on on November the 10th when we take control of the House and the Senate.

(Soundbite of cheering)

ROBBINS: First, John McCain has to win his own party's primary in August. The latest poll has him only seven points ahead of challenger Hayworth. But McCain has a lot more money. He also has the support of other big name Republicans. Mitt Romney and Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown have already campaigned for McCain in Arizona. Expect Sarah Palin to be back as well.

Ted Robbins, NPR News, Tuscan.

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