Sunday, February 14, 2010

Daytona Vid and Articles

Okay, many, much articles to go through, and I'm sure there'll be more to come.

The following are article excerpts. Articles linked from the numbers:

1. Palin said she was "having fun and not thinking about the politics of this," but didn't miss the chance to energize her base in one of the most critical regions of the largest swing state.

"This is awesome," she said. "It's all-Americana event. Good, patriotic, wonderful event that's bringing a whole lot of people together. I think this is good for our country."

Sporting a black coat, blue jeans and heels -- no hand notes -- the self-described "hockey mom" got the full experience in her first visit to the Daytona 500.

She sat through the pre-race driver meeting, muscled her way through pit road, took to the stage on the infield and wished drivers a safe race. She drew roars from throngs of racing fans, many shouting "We love you, Sarah!"

Palin wasn't with her husband, Todd, on Valentine's Day. She told the crowd he was back in Alaska preparing for the Iron Dog snowmobile race.

"Whether it's racing cars, dogs, snow machines, it's an event like this that brings all Americans together," she said.

"We've got our snow-machine races up there. This is, of course, on a much greater scale," she said. "Same type of sport, though, same type of risk-taking, speed-loving all-American event that we participate up north. We love it. You bet."

Even some of the biggest names in NASCAR and entertainment couldn't resist her.

Seven-time Daytona 500 winner Richard Petty posed for a photo, singers Tim McGraw and Harry Connick Jr. greeted her, and everybody from Army members and Marines to autograph-seeking fans and kids in wheelchairs got hugs and handshakes.

Crew members on pit road even took a break from changing tires, some stunned to see Palin walking through their familiar domain before the race.

"If you run (for president) in 2012, you've got my vote," one told Palin, shaking her hand.

That was perhaps the biggest bonus of Palin's visit.

2. Many at Daytona shouted “We love you, Sarah!” Florida has 27 electoral votes and it’s conceivable Palin will run for president in 2012.

3. A Tim McGraw concert in the infield, thousands of workers with flags and giant photos of past NASCAR champs, introductions of VIPs, including Sarah Palin, who received, as you might suspect, a warm welcome in NASCARWorld.

Palin-mania easily surpassed Danica-mania at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday.

While Patrick got all the headlines for the better part of two weeks, she had no stake in the Daytona 500. Palin did, and as a VIP guest for the race, she ate up all the attention.

When she arrived for the drivers meeting, Palin was immediately mobbed. She briefly chatted with Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, shook hands with supporters and smiled big.

She took a seat up front next to Harry Connick Jr., who sang the national anthem for the race. When NASCAR president Mike Helton acknowledged her as a special guest, she got the largest ovation from the room, packed from the front to the back with drivers, team members, support personnel and onlookers.

After sitting through the meeting, Palin could not get out the door. Fans mobbed her, asking for pictures and autographs. Her 12-person entourage, comprised of track security, a policeman, friends and spokespeople, tried to get her to the door and to her next appearance. But Palin could not help herself, and kept signing and posing for pictures.

Even when she was able to get out the door, she stopped every few feet to take pictures. One fan asked where her husband, Todd, was on Valentine's Day. Palin said he couldn't make it because he's in Alaska preparing for the Iron Dog, the world's longest snow-mobile race.

As she got moving again, Palin stopped when she saw a boy in a wheelchair to say hello and sign an autograph. As she walked ahead, she answered two questions about attending her first Daytona 500.

"This is awesome," said a slim Palin, wearing designer jeans, a smart charcoal coat and sky-high black stiletto heels. "It's an All-Americana event. A good, patriotic, wonderful event that's bringing a whole lot of people together. I think it's good for our country."

When asked what a trip to a swing state like Florida does for her political ambitions, the former Alaska governor said, "Haven't thought a darn thing about the politics of this. I'm thinking about this good, active, speed-loving event that a lot of Alaskans, too, are really into. We've got our snow-machine races up there, and this is, of course, on a much greater scale, same type of sport though, same type of breath-taking, speed-loving, All-American event that we like to see up north."

Palin, in town to speak at the Chamber of Commerce on Monday and sign copies of her book, "Going Rogue," continued on toward the track, stopping to take pictures with soldiers, firemen, men, women and children. She entered pit road and stopped to meet Richard Petty. Then she made her way to the tri-oval stage in front of the grandstands, where she delivered a 30-second message that roused the crowd.

As she tried to make her way out, Palin kept stopping for her fans, who shouted, "We love you, Sarah!" Her spokespeople kept screaming, "We gotta go! We gotta go!" But Palin kept obliging, relishing all the love.

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