Gov. Sarah Palin campaigns at Elon

Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin electrified thousands of people from across North Carolina on Thursday during a campaign stop at Elon University. Her mission: Explain to the crowd inside the Latham Park baseball stadium why she believes Sen. John McCain is the best man to be the next president.


Palin spent several minutes after her speech autographing campaign signs and meeting with her North Carolina supporters.
Hundreds of Elon students turned out for the Oct. 16 campaign appearance, joining thousands of other North Carolina residents who crowded Latham Field for Sarah Palin’s visit.
etimage imgid=”12871″>The infield of the baseball stadium quickly filled for the mid afternoon event. When Palin took the microphone from country music sensation Hank Williams Jr., who opened for her with his new song “McCain-Palin Tradition,” thousands of onlookers erupted in cheers.

“It’s so great to be here, home of the Elon Phoenix!” Palin said. “There’s something providential about that. I hope you all got a chance to watch last night’s debate, because the man from Phoenix proved once again that he is the best choice to be our next president!”

The Alaska governor, whose campaign announced on Monday night that she would be visiting campus, spoke for 25 minutes about the November elections and why she and McCain are the best team suited for the tasks that confront the nation.

She touched upon the health care, energy, taxes, job growth and what she believes should be the overall role of government. “You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to best serve the people who elected you,” Palin said. “We believe in the forward movement of freedom, not the constant expansion of government.”

National, state and local media, including the New York Times and NPR, were on hand to cover the visit. The appearance comes less than 24 hours after the third and final presidential debate between McCain and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama.

“I think this is a big deal,” said Hunter Parrish, an Elon freshman from Richmond, Va. “It kind of puts our name on the map now and I wanted to get the experience of being here. I’m interested to hear what she’s going to say.”

Palin advocated for what she called an “all of the above” approach to weaning America off its use of foreign oil. Additional offshore oil drilling, a campaign position that drew chants of “Drill, baby, drill!” from the crowd, was cited as one way to do so, as is the development of alternative energy sources from biofuels, solar, geothermal and nuclear sources.

She also pushed for investment in additional clean coal technologies.

And she received applause from the one word that McCain has used for years to describe his governing style. “Everyone knows that John McCain is his own man,” Palin said. “He is ‘The Maverick.’”

Palin’s visit marked the second time in six months that a major political campaign has visited Elon University for an event. Former President Bill Clinton appeared on campus in April to stump for his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who at the time was a candidate for the Democratic nomination in the fall elections.

Members of the university community said they were thrilled with the opportunity of seeing a national figure in person.

“It’s always exciting when someone known on the national scene comes to campus. I wanted to be a part of that,” said Clifton Johnson, an assistant director of the Moseley Center and one of the many staff members in attendance. “I also wanted to get a sense of how involved our students are in the political process, and I’ve been impressed with the turnout.”

 – Written by Eric Townsend and Katie Reetz, staff members in the Office of University Relations