Sarah Palin visits Elon University, rallies supporters as she prepares for Election Day

By Russell Varner
October 16, 2008

Elon now seems to be a hot spot for political celebrities.

Just months after former President Bill Clinton visited the campus, Republican vice presidential nominee Governor Sarah Palin thrilled thousands of people from all across North Carolina Thursday afternoon at Elon University’s Latham Park, telling all why she believes that Senator John McCain should be the next President of the United States and how they need to make their voices heard come November 4.

Governor Sarah Palin speaks to thousands at Elon University's Latham Park.

Governor Sarah Palin speaks to thousands at Elon University's Latham Park.

“It’s so great to be here, home of the Elon Phoenix!” Palin said, causing the gigantic crowd of supporters to erupt in cheers. Chants of “Sarah, Sarah!”, “Drill, baby, drill!” and “U.S.A.!” were heard throughout the rally as supporters could not get enough of the charismatic senator from Alaska.

Palin touched on a variety of subjects, including health care, energy, taxes, job growth and what she believes should be the overall role of government. “[McCain and I] believe in what Ronald Reagan believed in,” she said. “We believe in forward progress…We believe in the forward movement of freedom, not the constant expansion of government.”

“I think she did a great job [today] and I was really pleased with McCain last night at the debates,” said Linda Steen, who drove all the way from Raleigh to hear Palin speak. “It’s great. It’s a glorious day here in North Carolina.”

“I think she did great,” said Margaret McGuire, a Palin supporter from Mount Airy. “It was inspirational. The values that she and John McCain have coincide with my values.”

“She was wonderful. We were right there close to her,” said Nick and Sherrie Sanders, a couple from Winston-Salem. “Dead on, exactly what America is all about…We were volunteers, so we had to get here around 9 or 9:30, but it was worth it. I could’ve waited two more hours.”

Palin wasn’t the only celebrity in attendance. North Carolina senators Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr made speeches beforehand to support their cause for re-election into the Senate, and country singer Hank Williams Jr. sang a few songs for the Palin faithful, including “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight,” “A Country Boy Can Survive,” “My Name is Bocephus,” Walk the Line” (originally made famous by Johnny Cash), and “McCain-Palin Tradition,” which is Williams’ famous “Family Tradition” song with different lyrics.

Singer Hank Williams Jr. sings 'All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight'

Singer Hank Williams Jr. sings "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" at the Palin rally at Elon University.

“Usually, I’m not a fan of politicians bringing along entertainers on the campaign trail, but Hank did a great job today,” said Elon junior Travis Martin. “And his song choices were great. Though I think it’s funny he did as much singing as she did talking.”

Palin also talked about drilling for oil and developing alternate energy sources such as biofuels, solar, geothermal and nuclear sources to help cut America’s dependency on foreign oil. As Palin put it, this election is for our kids and for the “next generation of Americans” and making it easier for them to deal with the problems America has now.

“I support John McCain and Sarah Palin for their policies, but also for John McCain’s experience and his honor,” said Lynn Gschwind, a resident of Chapel Hill. “I admire Sarah Palin. She’s a role model for any woman in this country. She has a wonderful family, she has worked her way up and became governor of one of our most important energy states and I am also absolutely appalled by the media coverage in this country that’s trying to sway the election towards the opposing candidate.”

Gschwind’s good friend Gus St. John, who traveled to Elon with Gschwind, also agrees that the media is to sway the voters to vote for McCain’s opposition. “The time coverage when they interview Obama and interview McCain, the minutes for McCain are much less. And I support Sarah Palin because she’s an outsider, she is a maverick, and she’s a fighter. And she’s a woman!”

This is also the second time in the past six months that a major politician has visited Elon University. Former President Bill Clinton visited Elon this past April to try and help his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, win the Democratic Presidential nomination. And people were just as excited for Palin as they were for Clinton, as shown by the great turnout and support shown by the Elon community.

For more videos from Palin’s visit to Elon, go to

Palin speaking at the rally

Hank Williams Jr. singing “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight”


1 Comment

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One response to “Sarah Palin visits Elon University, rallies supporters as she prepares for Election Day

  1. andersj

    Did your arm get tired holding the Flip camera up in the air to catch the speech? Mine did. I brought my 13-year-old daughter to see the event and be just like you, taking notes in a notebook and shooting video (and she learned a lesson when her battery in the still camera was dead so she couldn’t use it). I helped her for a while by holding the camera up high. It was a warm day to be all stretched out like that!

    You organized the content well and included a number of good direct quotations and specific details, but your overall tone comes off as biased.

    While this is one of your best combinations of reporting, writing and multiplatform work because you caught the video and pulled some stills off it and put it all together on this page, the writing has a slant because of choices you made in interviewing, word selection and quote selection. If you were writing content for a Republican site, this would be a well-written news account, but it’s too Palin-oriented to fulfill the description of objective journalism.

    The phrase “thrilled thousands of people” in the lead is overly effusive. Yes, because it was a Republican rally with 6,700 people in attendance there were probably a few thousand Palin supporters there, but you don’t know that for certain, and “thrilled” is a strong verb. Most of the dozens of people I met and talked with before and after the event iwere neutral or they were interested, polite Obama supporters.

    Readers who come to your communication will judge that you are a Palin supporter from that first sentence and then see that your direct quotes from the event are heavily slanted toward Palin support. To balance this story, you could easily have found people who are neutral and people who are in opposition to conservative policies and also included a few quotes from them in the piece.

    If you still want to rewrite it objectively to make it a portfolio piece that slices down the middle you could recast your lead and ask some classmates who did get “opposition” quotes if you can use some of them, then include them and be sure to add a little tag at the end of the story that reads …Additional reporting by________(fill in the name of the other reporter you got the additional quotes from).

    You have a nice feel for how to work the direct quotations into your storytelling, and I like how you extend the attribution to include additional details about the people who are talking. You have all sorts of good things working for you here.

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