KENTWOOD, Mich. (AP) - College students ditched class, employees skipped work and somehuddled in the cold overnight just to make sure they get an orangewristband Wednesday that would let them meet Sarah Palin.
A line of more than a thousand people — some sportingPalin Power stickers and Palin T-shirts — moved slowly into aBarnes & Noble store Wednesday to see the former Republicanvice presidential candidate and Alaska governor on the first stopof her "Going Rogue" book tour. During the hours they waited, somebroke out in chants of "Palin! Palin! Palin!"
Watch the videos, left, to see complete coverage from 24 Hour News 8 reporters Emily Linnert, Jessica Leffler and Rick Albin.
Scores more who couldn't get wristbands awaited Palin's arrivaloutside, braving the cold and yelling. "USA!" and "Sarah, Sarah!"at an event that took on the feel of a political pep rally.
"She's a person of faith, she has a family, she has gone througha lot of the trials and tribulations we have. I'd vote for her in aheartbeat," said Lana Smith, a dispatcher at a bus company who tookthe day off work and had been waiting in line since 5:30 a.m.
"Someday I hope her name is up in lights and I'll have had theprivilege of meeting her," Smith said.
The song "Only in America," a standard on George W. Bush's 2004campaign stops, played as Palin's tour bus, painted to resemble thecover of her book, pulled up to the Woodland Mall in GrandRapids.
"I just can't tell you how good it is to be back in Michigan,"the former Alaska governor said after getting off the bus carryingher youngest son, Trig. "Alaska and Michigan have so much incommon, with the huntin' and the fishin' and the hockey moms, andjust the hardworking, patriotic Americans who are here."
Palin took time to shake hands with most of those whose booksshe signed, something 50-year-old Bill Buckner appreciated afterPalin signed books for him and his 21-year-old daughter,Michelle.
"We are very, very honored that she came here. And coming toGrand Rapids as her No. 1 stop is even better," said Buckner, whohad gotten in line around 4:30 a.m.
The memoir was released Tuesday but has topped best-seller listsfor weeks. At the Barnes & Noble, more than 1,000 orangewristbands were handed out, allowing wearers to get two copiesautographed by Palin at the three-hour signing event.
Tom Maike got in line at 1 a.m. after driving the 90 minutesfrom his home in White Cloud. Wearing a button on his baseball capthat said, "Don't blame me, I voted for Sarah," Maike said he plansto keep one of his signed books for himself and will give the otherto his sister or his daughter — "whichever one talks me outof it."
Rachel Baragar, 72, praised Palin's honesty and down-to-earthmanner.
"She could be your next-door neighbor," said Baragar, wearing a"Palin Power" bumper sticker across her red sweat shirt.
College students Megan Patzky of Racine, Wis., and Sarah Cranmerof Chicago waited in line overnight and skipped their Wednesdayclasses at nearby Calvin College to get an autograph. Patzkyplanned to give the signed book to her father for Christmas.
After standing in the cold all night, Patzky and Cranmer werehappy to get into the mall around 6:15 a.m. "We were hoping thatsomeone would start selling coffee, but nobody did," Patzkyjoked.
"Going Rogue" follows Palin from childhood to her departure lastsummer as Alaska governor. The title refers to her independentstreak as a candidate, stemming from complaints within the campaignof GOP presidential nominee John McCain that she had gone "rogue"by disagreeing with the campaign's decision to pull out of Michiganlast October.
McCain halted his campaign in the state after internal pollsshowed Obama approaching a double-digit lead. Palin publiclydisagreed with the move and said she'd "sure love to get to run toMichigan" to make sure residents know the Republicans had not givenup in the state.
Before the pullout, Palin had campaigned with McCain in GrandRapids and the Detroit suburb of Sterling Heights. Her three-weekbook tour is expected to largely mirror the 2008 race with stops incities such as Noblesville, Ind.; Washington, Pa., and Rochester,N.Y.
Many of those waiting at the Michigan bookstore said they wouldvote for Palin if she decides to run for president in 2012.
"I believe she's a good, strong person to do the things we needto do in this country," said David Zak, 70, who drove about twohours out of his way on his way from Wisconsin to his home insoutheast Michigan to see Palin. "I like her Christian philosophy.I like that she's pro-life. I believe she can do what needs to bedone to get ahead."
Here is a timeline of Palin's visit:
Midnight -- People were permitted to start liningup in the plaza outside Woodland Mall.
5:30 a.m. -- The first people in the plaza lineswere allowed inside the mall to another line at the Barnes &Noble entrance. The mall can hold about 600 to 800 people; excesswas lined up outside.
7 a.m. -- Barnes & Noble started distributingwristbands.
6 to 9 p.m. -- Palin will sign books inside thestore.
Additional wristband information:
If you receive a wristband, you are guaranteed a signature fromPalin in the evening. People need to purchase a Palin book whenthey receive a wristband, or, be able to provide a receipt showingthey purchased one at another Barnes & Noble store or thestore's Web site.
The wristband does not have a number, so when you return laterin the day, you will have to get in another line to wait for theautograph.
If Palin gets through all the people with wristbands before 9p.m., she will give autographs to people without wristbands who arewaiting in a standby line.
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