Republicans say they back Palin 100 percent

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, shakes hands with audience members after speaking at the Pony Express Pavillion at Mills Park on Saturday.

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, shakes hands with audience members after speaking at the Pony Express Pavillion at Mills Park on Saturday.

With just 15 minutes to go before Sarah Palin's event was to start Saturday, the Pony Express Pavilion was only about a quarter full.

The hold-up: The Secret Service had just one metal detector to run a line of some 3,500 people through.

At 4:45 p.m., they gave up. They moved the metal detector out of the way and the crowd flooded into the pavilion. As one McCain backer said, the Alaskan Governor isn't in serious danger in Carson City.

Despite predictions the pavilion would be packed to overflowing, it was only about two-thirds full when the speeches began. And some of those inside went back outside where they could watch and hear better on a big screen set up in the park.

The crowd was enthusiastic and most people when asked said they are convinced she's the best choice and not concerned about her lack of experience.

"It doesn't matter. She won't be making any choices," said Bob Frydrych of Gardnerville.

Several admitted they hadn't really heard of Palin until McCain announced her as his choice for vice president. The exception was Shirley Thom of Reno who said she saw Palin interviewed on Fox News in July.

"I thought that's who McCain should pick," said Thom after the event. "When he said it was the governor of Alaska, I lost it."

Katelyn Ford said Palin convinced her to abandon the Democrats for the GOP ticket this year.

"I'm a Democrat but I didn't like either Hillary or Obama," she said. "I was convinced as soon as she was picked. She seems like a strong woman who is going to make a difference, make the changes this country needs."

Jerry and Diane Jaramillo of Dayton said they are 100 percent behind the ticket now.

His issues, he said, are "oil and guns and guns are number one."

"She doesn't back down from nobody," he said. "And she's a smart woman."

"She'll stand up for our rights," said Diane.

A state worker who identified himself only as Randy said Palin has "pretty much" convinced him to vote Republican this time.

"She's lacking in experience but I think she's got good judgment," he said. Still, he admitted he hadn't heard of her before the announcement.

"We're seeing a moment in history," said Missy McQuattie, a Reno businesswoman.

As for Palin's lack of national-international experience, McQuattie said "she's a quick study."

She said her niece told her all her sorority sisters who were Obama backers are switching over to the GOP ticket because of Palin.

The enthusiasm wasn't limited to Palin's supporters at the pavilion. Nearly 50 Democrats showed up as well, chanting Obama's name and holding up signs charging the McCain ticket is nothing but four more years of George Bush.

Paul Rutt of Dayton said he is "A Democrat but not an Obama supporter."

But he said Palin isn't the right choice.

"Palin's strictly a marketing ploy on the Republican side," he said.

And all the rhetoric in this campaign, he said, isn't where the focus should be.

"It's the economy, stupid," he said.

Lois Willis, one of those carrying an anti-McCain sign, said her big issue is abortion.

"I don't believe anybody has the right to judge me except God and when they say they're going to make a law against my choice, they're standing between me and my God," she said. "I also believe McCain is a war monger."

Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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