Scenes from Palin's visit to Shippensburg

October 29, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. -- Kristi Collurafici of Baltimore closely clutched her 4-month-old daughter, Katelyn, before Republican vice presidntial nominee Gov. Sarah Palin''s campaign rally began at Shippensburg University's Heiges Field House.

Four generations of her family were at the event.

"My mom's always been into politics," Collurafici said.

Her mother, Sabrena Meyerhoff, has been the acting chairwoman of the Adams County (Pa.) Republican Committee. She needled her daughter about earlier convictions.

"She was an Obama supporter," Meyerhoff said.

"I'm just so afraid of Obama getting in. I think anything (Palin) can give today will be wonderful," Debby White said.

White and Dianne Poper, both of Greencastle, Pa., described the Democratic nominee as being questionable in everything he has said and done.


"What (Palin) has done for Alaska alone, she's so intelligent. She's someone you can sit down with a cup of coffee. I trust her with my life - her and McCain," Poper said.

Chambersburg, Pa., resident Deb Lautenslager went to the Hershey, Pa., rally before attending the one in Shippensburg.

"I was kind of undecided until today," said Lautenslager, who switched her registered party affiliation from Democrat to Republican this year.

Lautenslager supported Hillary Clinton in the primary election, but has since decided that Palin is also a strong, smart woman.

"A woman can get things done," she said.

Heather Martin of Shippensburg said she appreciates that McCain and Palin both have sons in military service. She also finds Palin easier to relate to because of her child with special needs.

Overall, she likes what the Republican candidates stand for.

Steve Lemonakis' visit at the rally was planned to show support for McCain and to witness firsthand the enthusiasm that Palin brought to the ticket.

"I hope she touches on the fact of how many women she has brought to this campaign. I'm pleased with how many young women are here," said Lemonakis, of Smithsburg.

He described Palin as a "tough boss" and someone who will "make Congress a better place."

Fred and Lindi Baker of Clear Spring organized a bus to take 55 people to the rally. The couple donned Republican pride hats.

"All the things Obama says he's going to do ... aren't good for the country," Fred Baker said.

Wearing a black skirt and trendy glasses, Andrea Rhone received comments about being a Palin look-alike. The 18-year-old from Chambersburg voted for the first time in the primary election.

"I really think McCain and Palin have a lot of experience," said Rhone, who supports offshore drilling.

Gina Rowland, also of Chambersburg, wore a "Palin Power" T-shirt she bought on the Internet. She, too, garnered attention for her resemblance to the Alaska governor.

"I won a (look-alike) contest in Chambersburg," she said.

Hancock mother and son Lydia Manning and Wayne Keefer both got tickets for the rally. Prior to arriving, they argued with Keefer's grandfather over the older man's support for Obama.

"We've been standing outside for three hours," Manning said. "Worth every minute."

"She seems to be a family person, and I know family is important to us," Keefer said.

Shippensburg University students Lauren Haskins, Katie McDade and Becca Gehua clutched Obama-Biden signs as they waited to enter Heiges Field House.

"We're here because this isn't representative of our campus," said Gehua, 21.

"If they wanted to come out and talk to the students, these aren't students," said Haskins, 20.

Gehua said the event appeared to be a university function, although only about 15 percent of the student body was able to attend.

"It was between 800 to 1,000 tickets (available on campus), but there are 7,000 students," McDade, 21, said.

Henry and Cindy Ryder, of Greencastle, Pa., said they are staunchly anti-abortion and are most concerned with the financial crisis.

"We want to hear what they can do about it," the couple said.

Five men from the Franklin County (Pa.) Young Republicans entered the field house together.

"I'd like to hear her talk about strengthening the dollar and the Federal Reserve," said Norm Brookens of Chambersburg.

"When you line up the issues with the two candidates, (like) taxes, McCain has been right there. Right now we need to get our spending back in order," said Ben Rice, also of Chambersburg.

"Spreading the wealth is not the way to do it," Brookens said.

Despite seeing clips of Palin on television, Julie Martin said the candidate was an even better speaker in person.

"I think she's fantastic," Martin said.

The McCain-Palin ticket is the one with the necessary experience, according to Martin.

"The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior," she said.

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