Article in the American Chronicle:
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, acknowledging she was visiting a strange, if not hostile, place, exhorted Lane County Republicans to rise up against government excesses and misplaced values of the Obama administration.
"When the other party's wrong, we stiffen our spines," Palin told about 900 people who attended a fundraising dinner for the Lane County Republican Party. "Why not be the party of not just no, but hell no," she shouted.
Palin's visit to what is considered Oregon's most liberal city attracted dozens of protesters who waved signs and taunted the mostly well-dressed crowd entering the Eugene Hilton, where the event was held.
The one-time vice presidential candidate took it in stride. She said she looked up Lane County on the Internet and found an article that described the residents as a bunch of Nike-wearing, granola-eating hippies.
"I'm reading that, and I'm saying, 'Ooh, I feel so culturally profiled," Palin said. "I love my Nikes. ... I eat granola. I eat a lot of organic food. I have to shoot and catch a lot of my organic food before I eat it."
Most attendees paid $250 to have dinner and listen to Palin's 45-minute speech, followed by a brief question-and-answer session with Eugene City Councilor Jennifer Solomon.
For $100, diners in an adjacent room were able to watch Palin live on two large video screens. About 70 donors shelled out $1,000 for a special reception with Palin.
"She's a superstar," said Jeanne Staton of Eugene, who attended the fundraiser by herself to get a look at the woman who may run for president.
To reach the event, donors had to walk through a gantlet of taunting, people wearing red rubber noses, a Palin look-alike waving the flag and a woman on a bike hurling insults at every high-heeled shoe that passed by.
"They don't bother me. They're all nuts," said one man, who wouldn't give his name, after he passed by a couple of dozen protesters who lined the street outside the Eugene Hilton...
Rebecca McKenzie, 29, of Eugene left work at a nearby barbershop and grabbed a perch on an outdoor patio at Rockn Rodeo, a cowboy-themed bar across the street from the hotel. She watched the protests with a mix of fascination and chagrin.
"I think it's pretty pathetic," she said of the name-calling.
But c'mon. Palin? Eugene?
"I understand the oil and water thing," McKenzie said. "But if you don't approve, go home. Don't come."
Also on hand to protest were members of Code Pink, a liberal activist group. Palin said her daughter Bristol saw them from their hotel window, liked their pink clothes and went down and talked to them. Bristol, according to Palin, told them how much she likes Eugene.
Palin, or her speechwriter, had clearly done her homework. Time and time again, she urged the audience members not to get discouraged when they see Democrats in Congress and President Barack Obama pushing through government programs such as "Obamacare" health reform and bailouts of car companies.
"It's like the runner Steve Prefontaine used to say," Palin said, referring to the Eugene track legend, "It's going to come down to a pure guts race. And if it does, we can win it."
Palin aimed her message at the blue-collar, grass-roots level of the Republican Party. "Big government," represented by the Democratic Party, has run roughshod over the American people, she said, but people can fight back.
"If you remember only one thing, please remember this," she said. "America does need your voice now more than ever, especially in a place like this. Don't get discouraged."
Dawn Attleberger of Vancouver said she got a bit rattled as she endured jeers on her way into the event. But it was worth it, she said.
"I'm 51, and I wasn't interested in politics until she came into the picture," Attleberger said. "Now I am."
And here's a little anecdotal story about the reporter who wrote the above article running into Sarah Palin:
Security was tight tonight at Sarah Palin’s fundraiser speech to the Lane County Republicans. But it wasn’t foolproof.
Shortly after filing my story on the speech, I headed to the basement of the Eugene Hilton, where I ran into state Rep. Ron Maurer, the Republican from Southern Oregon who is running for state schools superintendent.
As we were talking, up walks Palin with her husband, Todd. Both were sweaty and in workout clothes. They’d just come from the hotel gym and were headed up to their room.
It was a bit of a shock because the organizers -- under Palin’s orders -- had taken great pains to make sure she never encountered any reporters. We were allowed only to watch the speech from two large video screens in an adjacent room.
After talking briefly with Maurer about his naming his sons after rifles -- Remington and Winchester -- Palin turned to me and shook my hand, asking who I was.
“I’m one of those media people,” I said somewhat sheepishly. A significant chunk of Palin’s speech was devoted to criticizing and outright ridiculing what she termed “the lamestream media.”
“That’s OK,” she said. Todd grinned and shook my hand, too, before they both hopped into the elevator.
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