by Rebecca Tescher Robison
BILLINGS – It was subzero outside but warm and cordial inside as the Sarah Palin crowd gathered at Borders Books in Billings for the former governor’s book signing on Tuesday morning, Dec. 8.
Fans, all carrying one or two copies of “Going Rogue,” Palin’s New York Times’ best seller, visited with each other as they ambled their way through a long line, browsing various book shelves and seemingly enjoying their wait.
Palin, a former vice presidential candidate, was seated in a draped off area in the right center of the store. The crowd was shuttled through quickly but politely and after shaking hands with Sarah and her husband and “First Dude,” Todd Palin, were greeted by Sarah’s father, Chuck, who had a few more minutes to visit with them.
Only the young children slowed the former Alaska governor’s pace as she asked each their age or year in school. Sarah’s mother, Sally Heath, was also signing books throughout the session but at one point was rumored to be shopping at a discount outlet next door. Youngest son Trig, the only Palin offspring traveling with the extended family, also made an appearance.
With earphones, energy and efficiency, the book signing tour had all the excitement of a political campaign.
But Palin has made no announcement. That didn’t detour this crowd that was enamoured with the nation’s favorite Republican.
Contractor and real estate developer Dan Burmeister of Big Timber brought his four-member family to Billings at 5 a.m. Tuesday to brave the cold and stand in line for a wristband, which allowed him to get his book signed by the former governor. He had his book signed somewhere between noon and 1 p.m.
“I came because we need a change,” he said. “She has charisma and speaks from the heart. She is very down to earth and has not been in politics her whole life. She isn’t jaded.”
Brian Mattson of Billings, with his wife and two young children, said he came because he “is a big Sarah Palin fan.”
“She understands us. She is against slavery. When you don’t have choices in doctors, in who we are going to pay and how much money is spent, you are a slave. And she knows it,” said Mattson, carrying two autographed copies. When asked if he’d support her if she chose to run for president of the United States, Mattson said, “I am open to supporting her. She would be a good choice. When you see big crowds like this it makes you think she can win,” he concluded.
Montana state senator and unsuccessful Republican gubernatorial candidate Roy Brown said he was at this “gathering of conservatives” to buy a book for his daughter, who worked on the McCain-Palin campaign.
“She thinks Palin in great.”
Speaking about Palin, he said, “She talks like us, she’s from a rural area like us. What’s not to like about a gal who can shoot and dress a moose before breakfast? We can all relate to her common sense.”
Ardie and Tamara Fisher from Helena and Polson, said they came to the book signing because Palin relates to what they relate to.
“She has good values and believes in America.”
Another observer said she wasn’t sure Palin would run for president or that she needed to. “She may just be energizing the grassroots and straightening out this country’s priorities,” said the Carhartt-clad woman. “She may just be leading the nation in a common sense movement to slow down big government overtaking the working people.”