Sarah Palin scurried around Gettysburg like a mouse Monday in a large bus built to gather attention as media, supporters and interested people chased her like cats.
Rumors began to fly on Friday that the former Alaska governor, former vice presidential candidate and possible candidate for president would stop in Gettysburg on her One Nation bus tour. Palin stopped in Washington, D.C. Saturday and Sunday and headed to Mount Vernon and Fort McHenry early Monday.
No one seems to know where a rumor originated from that claimed Palin would appear at the Pennsylvania Monument on the Gettysburg National Military Park, but by 10:30 a.m., Monday that rumor had spread like wildfire. Hundreds of people gathered at the monument wearing Palin tee shirts and buttons or holding signs.
Jeanne Tull of Selmer, Tenn. was visiting Gettysburg for the weekend and was thrilled at the possibility that a Palin sighting could be added to her trip. She sat at the Pennsylvania Monument for more than seven hours, but Palin never arrived.
“A lot of them (people waiting for Palin) have been here all day, and some of them left and came back,” Tull said at 6 p.m.
She said she supports Palin because of her “Christian morals.”
Tull was traveling with Janita Carlton of Green Forest, Ark.
“I think she is a very strong-willed person and it takes that to run the country,” Carlton said of Palin.
It became apparent to many people at about 7 p.m. that standing at the Pennsylvania Monument holding signs and wearing t-shirts that expressed support for Palin was not going to produce anything but sweat.
CNN’s John King did numerous live spots from the monument that questioned the need for Palin’s secrecy and whether she will run for president. King also questioned if Fox News not dropping Palin as a contributor meant she is not running or that Fox News has a “double standard” since they have dropped Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Gingrich has announced his candidacy and Santorum is expected to announce next month.
Members of the media toiled with the question of why they were standing in 90 degree temperatures with no concrete evidence that Palin would appear. Since there was such a large crowd at the Monument, her visit was in the public interest and the media would be there to get the story if it ever happened.
Normally, when figures as popular as Palin launch a nationwide tour, they announce their stops in advance so the public and the media are aware. Politicians, especially possible presidential candidates, seek the attention and their public relations people do everything they can to make sure every media outlet in the region is aware of the appearances.
Palin’s tour is much different. Organizers refuse to release an itinerary and those who are often on the inside of Republican channels are just as confused as everyone else.
Later Monday, information began to leak that Palin was staying at the Courtyard Marriot at Gateway Gettysburg. Again, that only led to more speculation as to her plans for the evening.
Several people began to gather in the hotel’s parking lot with the same hopes as those gathered at the Pennsylvania Monument. However, they had a little more luck.
Palin briefly made some candid remarks when she returned from a run with her family. Those who were present said she did say she would visit the Gettysburg National Military Park Tuesday and needed to go shopping for socks Monday evening.
Shawn Umbenour of Cumberland Township had the chance to talk to Palin’s parents, Chuck and Sally Heath, and her husband, Todd. The Heaths said they would be visiting the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center Tuesday.
Another person who was present during Sarah Palin’s brief public appearance captured it on video. One of the few questions she took was “do you want the press on this trip?”
“I think I don’t have a choice. Because as much as we don’t want to disrupt others, you know we don’t want to disrupt people on their trips and on their vacations and make it chaotic for these good folks,” she said.
Famous people visit Gettysburg all of the time and the media do not intrude on their personal vacations; but different expectations are set when the celebrity arrives in a giant bus with an illustration of the United States Constitution and Sarah Palin’s signature on it.
Walt Tuchalski, communications chair of the Adams County Republican Committee, spoke to Palin and also questioned her desire for secrecy. Palin told Tuchalski that she was concerned about security.
If Palin decides to make a public appearance Tuesday, the Times will post information on www.gettysburgtimes.com as soon as it is made available.
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