Once I got to Fargo, it took me 20 minutes to find the Holiday Inn where she was speaking, but I need not have rushed. They said they got about 200 more people than they planned for and the line was still long. I estimate that they started half an hour late because of it. All in all, over 1,000 in attendance.
Unlike the last time I went to a Palin event, I didn't take any notes. You can't really enjoy it when you take notes, so if I get a few quotes wrong... Consider this my disclaimer.
First off, the Perry Center seems like a wonderful organization. Patricia Larson, the Administrator of Perry Center, choked up a number of times telling the story of how the Center was founded and her involvment in the ministry. Basically, they're a home for girls ages 12 to 23 (although exceptions are made for other ages) who get pregnant and don't know what to do.
Patricia told the story of how she graduated college just before the passage of Roe vs. Wade. She never really thought about abortion until she heard that an abortion clinic was being opened nearby. Inside she felt that this was very wrong, but she wasn't sure how to help. Her husband (she calls him the idea man) was away doing ministry work at the time. He called her up soon after and said, "Well, I did it." He had put an ad in the personal section of the paper:
"Pregnant? Call us first."
That was it. About six people responded in just the first week. Patricia found herself in the business of helping overnight, encouraging these young women, telling them that they are not junk, their lives have meaning. The baby they're carrying is not a mistake, it's a life God wants to use. Don't throw it away; there are other options.
One day a doctor came up to Patricia at church and offered to do whatever he could in addition to his regular practice. His name was Dave Perry. He often delivered the babies free of charge and sometimes provided emergency medical treatment to girls who were suffering from a botched abortion.
One of the more heart-wrenching parts of the story was when Patricia told of the first time she ever held signs in front of their local abortion clinic. It wasn't something she wanted to do; she felt that her strengths laid elsewhere, but she got talked into trying it for at least one hour.
The hour was almost up with her opinion unchanged, when a big Cadillac pulled up in front of the clinic. A well-to-do man and his wife got out of the front seat, went around to the back, and pulled their daughter out. She looked to be about 15. She was sobbing. "Someone help! I don't want to kill my baby, don't make me kill my baby!" They drug her in anyway.
That was it. Patricia was in with both feet, even for sign-waving.
Learn more about the Perry Center and about how you can help - http://www.perrycenter.org/
They showed this video in the introduction:
Anyway, on to Paliny things.
Scott Hennen, a regional conservative radio celebrity, was the Master of Ceremonies. He got fired up. I wish I had video of his introduction alone. He was praising Sarah Palin up and down, Bristol as well. C4P linked the interview he had done with Bristol earlier that day.
He told about how he was down and bored to tears in August of 2008 with McCain. "Is this the best we've got?"
He was talking to a friend of his, and his friend turned to him and said, "Don't you know the Barracuda?" Scott said no. His friend proceeded to tell him about the Governor of Alaska, former basketball player nicknamed 'the Barracuda.'
About a week later, she was announced as John McCain's VP pick.
I wish I could remember everything he said, but here's an example:
When something needs fixing, who do you call? "Moooooom!!!"
Deficits, government out of control... "Mooooooom!!!"
We're all here for a reason. That's her reason. That's why she's here.
He had me grinnin' from ear to ear. His speech was about as close you can get to an endorsement without technically endorsing. It was also so cute the way he talked about wanting Tripp to play hockey for the North Dakota Sioux. (That also reminded me of this stupidity. I demand they ban the "Fighting Irish!" stereotype as well /s. I'm sorry, but "Fighting Sioux" is a compliment. It's cool. What do you want to be called, the Knitting Sioux?)
Bristol got up after a couple more speakers. She was pretty nervous, I think. Not big-time outwardly, but she's shy by nature. It manifested itself in her speaking softly. An audience of 1,000+ has got to be nerve-wracking (I absolutely hated my speech classes). The audience was eager to cheer Bristol on and encourage her in her efforts. It had a feeling of them being there for her just as much, if not more, as her being there for them.
Hm, what to tell? There are a couple of really cute anecdotes she shared, but I'm not sure how detailed I should get. Janne has a general rundown.
She said she believes life begins at conception. She talked briefly about Baby Doe, the child with down syndrome who was left to starve to death. The man who pressured Congress to adopt the Baby Doe Law to make sure something like that would never happen again, Dr. Koop, talks about it and Reagan here. Ted Kennedy actually deserves a pat on the back for his role in the process as well.
She emphasized that her family was your typical, middle American family. The fact that the media looks at her family as if they came from another planet just shows you how out of touch the media really is. She talked about how, when she got pregnant, one of the things that made it so hard was everything else that was going on in their lives at the time. Big Brother about to go off to a war zone, a brand-new baby brother in the house, already-hectic schedules, etc... And now this.
Okay, I have to share a couple of the cute anecdotes, and then I'll leave it at that.
This wasn't her first trip to North Dakota. Track went to a hockey camp at UND, and Bristol said that they all hopped in the mini van and drove down to surprise him.
(According to Sarah at Faulker University, they were ready to do the same thing for Bristol. Just hop in the camper, drive down, and park alongside Bristol's place. I love how they don't seem to give a second thought to what anyone else would think about it. It's their family; it's what they do. They show up for each other.)
One more story. She said that at one of her basketball games, her dad showed up in the middle still in his hunting camo. He had just skinned a moose. He might have looked a little out of place but for the fact that he was in good company; Mom had arrived still in her camo a few minutes before.
The audience was really cool. Seemed like there were a lot of churches present, and again, it was like they were there to really encourage Bristol. Scott Hennen emphasized that God has a plan for Bristol and for Tripp. There's nothing like a salt-of-the-earth old church guy throwing his arm around you when you're young and telling you that you've got purpose. You're going to do something great for God one day.
At the very end, Scott got up again and made a pitch to donate to the Perry Center. Then a local pastor gave the closing prayer. He said that they had come up with the idea that they should pray for Bristol, and that's exactly what they did.