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Palin pulls a surprise at the Luhrs Center in Shippensburg

October 29, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

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SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - Being last in line proved a good place to be at the Sarah Palin rally on Tuesday.

Organizers reportedly cut off the half-mile-long line once 4,500 people filled the Heiges Field House, although they issued 7,000 tickets. The overflow crowd was taken into the H. Rick Luhrs Center where they received an impromptu visit by the Republican vice presidential candidate.

She changed into a "Ship Happens" sweatshirt before joining her husband, Todd, in greeting those who remained at the Luhrs Center. The candidate posed for pictures, signed autographs and hoisted a hockey stick in the air.

"It's great to be in Pennsylvania, a lot of excitement today. I just want you guys to carry that excitement all the way through Nov. 4," said Todd Palin, who was called Alaska's "First Dude" by his wife.

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"It's going to come down to the wire. A lot of folks are telling us it will probably come down to Pennsylvania," Sarah Palin said.

The vice presidential candidate referenced controversial comments that Democratic nominee Barack Obama made in San Francisco, saying that Pennsylvanians cling to guns and religion. She glanced at her husband.

"Of course, I'm thinking that's us," Palin said to cheers.

Shawn Rogers -- an Army soldier who returned from Iraq in May -- joked about how his place in line found him on the first baseline of the baseball field, far from the event.

"We were on the other side of Shippensburg," he said.

Rogers said the Republicans have been more forthcoming about their plans for the war than the Democratic candidates.

"They've already addressed the issue. I came out to support them because they support me," he said.

Stephanie Peffer, of Newville, Pa., bypassed the line altogether and went straight to the Luhrs Center after work. She thought about joining hundreds of other people in leaving the theater, but then she heard an event organizer mention that Palin was on her way into the building.

"I wanted to hear her, definitely," Peffer said. "I think she seems kind of girl next door. She's really family oriented."

Peffer's father, Jerry Wall of Carlisle, Pa., said that the line had wrapped around the Field House, around the football field, down the block and "as far as you could see."

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