Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Vice-Precedence Meets Sarah Palin
Hey Vice-Precedence Blog readers! Here's the story I promised you yesterday. My meeting with former Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin of the great state of Alaska!
It started the night before, when I went and picked up my copy of her new autobiography-"Going Rogue" at the Barnes and Noble at the Mall of America. I had pre-ordered it 3 weeks before while taking my daughter Caitlin to the mall for her birthday-luckily its just across from the Build-A-Bear there, so it was just a quick detour. So on Sunday the 6th I went to the Mall where I was met by friend of the film-Chris Mogel, who took some pictures of me with the book-after we were told that we couldn't take pics in the store-we took them outside. Unlike at certain stores where people camped out overnight to be first in line to get autographs, the Mall of America does NOT allow people to do this. Fans would have to wait until the next morning at 5AM before they could get in line to go into the mall for the signing-that would start at 12noon! So I thanked Chris, who promised me he would send the pics of me with the book that night (which he did) and I would be back the next morning. When I got home-I started reading "Going Rogue". Its pretty easy reading-and I will talk about it more in another blog, and then went to sleep so I could get up early for the next day.
I woke at around 4:35 AM and got dressed, took some vitamins and juice, and went out the door to make the 25 minute drive to the Mall-there was no traffic and it was pitch black-but in my own neighborhood I drove slowly-good thing too-because I saw a big doe to the right of my car-so I turned on my brights and stopped. Good thing too-since another deer ran up to my car-within about 7 feet, and turned around and ran in the opposite direction just as I did. Too close for comfort. I proceeded to drive slowly and carefully looking for deer and other animals on the road to avoid hitting them until I got on the highway-where I turned on the speed.
When I arrived outside the Malls east entrance I could see the line already forming outside in 18 degree cold going around the corner of the mall. So I parked my car, and grabbed my copy of the book and joined the line-the time was 5:15 AM. The cold was simply bone-chilling. I could feel my feet slowly freezing and tried to move my toes as much as I could and press against my ears with my hands to keep them warm. Other people in line also did their best to keep warm and made small talk about how excited they were to be there. I mostly just made jokes about the cold and looked around. I decided I wouldn't ask questions about Gov. Palin and vice-presidents or politics until I'd gotten to know the people around me a little better and more importantly-until we were indoors, warmer, and in a better mood, as the crowd was beginning to get a little antsy about it. Many were outright angry when they saw a young family with a small child-about 1 year old-maybe younger-crying and screaming in the cold.
"Like that kid is going to remember anything about this." I heard one man mutter.
TV crews and reporters were running around-shooting the line and commenting for the early morning news. People waved to the cameras and cheered.
I too was getting impatient about the cold-and my feet by now were numb. When I overheard a guy in a homemade t-shirt with a donkey on it say:
"Its named Don Quixote-you know-for that Mexican philosopher." and no one corrected him-except me to the people around me-I just wanted to do whatever I could to get out of the cold.
Finally, slowly, the line began to move-we all knew from the rules passed out that they wouldn't open the door to let us in until 6AM. So I constantly looked at my watch. Slowly at around 5 after 6AM the line began to move. Finally I and the people around me got near the front. They let people in in groups of 20, and wouldn't you know it...as a group of people were led in-I was told I was #21 and wouldn't get in until the next group. So I had to wait an extra 10-15 minutes outside before being allowed in. Finally at around 6:50 or so, I was allowed in. We were led into the mall-me and the 19 people behind me, led by security all through the mall to the back of the line.
The signing would start at noon-5 hours more to wait.
As this line moved slowly once again to get the bracelets we needed for autographs, I began to warm up and as I got warmer and talked with the people around me, I began to feel comfortable enough to ask questions. I decided that I would ask people the same 4 to 5 questions-letting their answers lead into more if necessary.
1. What brought you out this morning-why do you like Gov. Palin so much?
2. Is there any specific policy stand of hers you truly believe in?
3. Were you going to vote for Senator McCain regardless of who he tapped as his VP candidate? Did Gov. Palin make a difference to you?
4. What vice-presidents who NEVER became President can you name besides our 2 most recent-Cheney and Gore?
5. What do you think of the Vice-Presidency in general?
I asked about a dozen different people these questions-always telling them that I was doing it for my book, blog and movie about the Vice-Presidency. Most people laughed at that-but agreed to answer my questions. I asked young people-college kids, an older couple who had driven all the way from Duluth for the signing, an attractive 20-something blonde and her boyfriend (who smirked during the questions and didn't answer them himself), and a few other people-trying to get as wide a spectrum of people as possible. I looked for any minority people=but to be honest, I saw only one Asian girl in her twenties, and absolutely no African Americans or Hispanics in line. Everyone there was mostly Caucasian-though there was a wide range of ages-from children to their 70's.
For Question 1 most people said that they just found her incredibly charismatic-that they liked her style and straight-talk and found her as one woman put it-"An amazing woman."
For Question 2 most people couldn't cite anything specific. Although one man in his late 20's, who said he considered himself a "conservative with libertarian beliefs in government." said he liked how she modeled her small govt. principles on Ronald Reagan. The 20-something blonde said it was Palins pro-life beliefs that she identified with the most-"She's just an incredible model for pro-life values and a smart, strong, conservative woman." she said.
For Question 3 every single person said they were going to vote for McCain anyway-regardless of who he chose for his VP. Though two people did say that they weren't excited about him, until he chose Gov. Palin as his running mate-and as they learned more about her, the more they liked her and got enthusiastic about the ticket. The blonde became a McCain/Palin volunteer and went out and raised money and actively campaigned. Almost everyone said they couldn't stand President Obama. One said that they thought President Obama-"a disease" who "needs to be destroyed-and no I don't mean that I want him assassinated."
For Question 4, no one could name a VP besides Gore and Cheney who wasn't president at first. One man said-"Hopefully never that idiot Biden."
Another man asked me-"Who was Eisenhower's vice-president? He was never President right?" When I informed him it was Richard Nixon, he paused and said-"Oh yeah, I forgot-well he became President so I guess he doesn't count." Finally the husband of a couple in their late 60's said: "Dan Quayle". I then said to a group of 4 people-
"You know you're all Minnesotans and you're forgetting a couple." I was then told by a different blonde 20-something from the first one that she was from Wisconsin, but then a young man blurted out:
"Oh! Walter Mondale!"
Then a woman in her early 70's said "Oh, and Humphrey, of course." I confirmed these two correct answers and reminded them that both of these former VP's had also been their party's nominee for President. They asked me to name some others, and I immediately responded with Aaron Burr and the story of the election of 1800 with the tie between him and Jefferson and the order of ascension which led into Question 5.
For Question 5, most people said the Vice-Presidency was something that was necessary, but not important at all. No one wanted to do away with it, but almost all agreed that it really didn't matter much at all.
While asking the questions and waiting and waiting, I flipped through the book, made small talk, and observed the surroundings: I saw many different sweatshirts with messages such as:
Veterans for Palin
Hockey Moms for Palin
PH.d Moms for Palin
Cougar Hunters for Palin.
I don't think anymore needs to be said about that last one.
The hours passed and I showed my book and receipt from Barnes and Noble to the clerks in front of the table at the rotunda in the East Part of the Mall in front of and to the left of the bookstore where a stage had been set up between two huge Christmas trees decorated in white, blue, and silver. It was on this stage that Gov. Palin would do the signing. I then had a blue bracelet placed on my left wrist, and was lead around to the line again. Reporters and others with blue "MEDIA" stickers shot footage of the line, and even interviewed some in line. By this time it was 11:35 or so, and all of a sudden some applause started, and I saw a older couple with a slightly younger woman walk into the area. Buzz started around us. I looked at the couple carefully, and then flipped to one of the two color photo sections of "Going Rogue" and looked for a specific picture. Yes. I was right, not 15 feet away from me, Palins parents-Chuck and Sally Heath, along with a woman who turned out to be "Sarah's Aunt Kate" as she said, were posing for pictures and shaking hands. I had agreed to get an extra book signed for a young man who was in line with me, since you were limited to two, and in exchange he would take some pictures for me with his camera-since I am too poor to have one except my cell phone cam-which, frankly, sucks. So his aunt held my book, and this young man-Bryan Herschbach, and I went over and I waited patiently and then walked up and stuck out my hand and said:
"Hi Mr. Heath. Thanks for coming out here today."
"Hi, its great to be here. Nice to meet you. Whats your name?"
"Matt, sir. Thanks for doing this."
"You're very welcome Matt, thanks for coming out and I hope you have a great day."
and he shook my hand. He couldn't have been friendlier. We got two photos. I was thrilled and after I got back to the line called Jason to let him know the good news.
So, we knew she'd be arriving shortly. We overheard some girls nearer to the front of us began to chant:
"We love Sarah yes we do, we love Sarah how 'bout you?!"
Then there was a quick burst of applause and we knew she had arrived. The line began to move very quickly and orderly-despite a few people cutting-we knew that where we were and the fact that she would be signing from Noon to 4PM, that we would get autographs. We made our way to the main line, and went thru a quick security check. By this time, we could clearly see Gov. Palin and next to her, her husband Todd. She was wearing her classic red outfit, and her hair was up-right out of "SNL"-she was standing up, signing with a flourish, and giving out handshakes and hugs as cameras flashed all around her. The line moved quickly, and all of a sudden I was putting my cell phone in a little basket and getting ready to go on the stage and meet the governor and former VP candidate.
Bryan and his aunt Renee moved ahead of me up the stairs, after handing their books to someone to be passed up to be signed. Meaning that you may not get the book that you bought signed, but you would definitely get a signed book. They hugged Mrs. Palin and moved across the stage and down the stairs. Finally I was given the go-ahead and made my way across the stage to right in front of the first woman to receive the Republican nomination for Vice-President of the United States, one of the most polarizing and popular women in the history of American politics.
"Hey how are ya'?! Whats your name?" I heard in that distinctive voice as she looked and smiled right at me and stuck out her hand. I have to admit; she is a very attractive woman in person. She seemed honestly happy to be there and to be doing this. The woman has charisma in person. No doubt about it. Still, it did feel a little surreal. But there she was in the flesh-and there was no going back now.
"I'm Matt Saxe governor, and its an honor to meet you," and I shook her hand, it was very light and dry with a gentle but firm grip. "and you too Mr. Palin." and here I quickly moved my hand to the left and shook hands with Todd Palin-strong and sure.
"I'm producing a documentary about the vice-presidency called "Vice-Precedence" and I would love to interview you for it."
"Oh wow, thats a great idea! How interesting." she said with a big smile as she signed my book with a red marker. Todd then said-"Wow. That's a very cool idea." The assistant to her left then quickly said to me:
"Put in a request at SarahPac dot com."
"SarahPac dot com?" I quickly asked as I was moving across the stage. More people were of course moving in behind me to take my place.
"Thats right-SarahPac dot com." he said.
"Thank you, and thank you Governor and Todd." I said-slipping up by not calling him Mr. Palin. I regretted that.
"You're very welcome. Thanks for coming out Matt!" they both said almost together with big smiles, and Todd waved goodbye as the governor began to sign another book.
That was it, about 5 seconds or so of face time. I got my cell back and looked at the time-1:15 on the dot. She was moving quickly thru the line. But still, it was all worth it. I had met a VP candidate and told her about our film, and I had an autograph to go with it. Awesome. I met up with Bryan and exchanged email addresses to get the pictures. Then went up to the Disney Store to get a few Chanukah gifts for Caitlin, and then went home and had a brief lunch and went to bed. I had been practically on my feet for over 7 hours and was exhausted. I later sent an email requesting an interview to SarahPac that night. Of course I got an automatic message saying that due to the volume of email, it may take awhile to get a reply, so we will see. Now I have written about the whole thing.
There you have it folks. Pictures from Bryan Herschbach and Chris Mogel are above and I am thankful to them for them. I hope you readers will write some comments about this blog, and continue to support Vice-Precedence as we move forward, slowly yes-but forward still to making our film. Please become Fans on Facebook, go to YouTube and rate our videos and post comments on both pages. We really appreciate it. Thanks.
In response to those of you who find this a little too admiring of Governor Palin-let me state this for the record: Sarah Palin MADE HISTORY. That is undeniable truth.
I was impressed by her charisma=not her policies. I am impressed that she can get that many people to buy her book and support her. Just want to say clearly-I'm NOT a supporter of her for higher office or most of her political beliefs-some of the people there who I overheard said abhorrent things that I very much disagreed with-but I was there to observe and report and tried to stay balanced and not confrontational-though in retrospect-I wish I had asked the guy who called Biden an idiot what he thought of Dan Quayle-he was the same guy-if he thinks Biden is an idiot-I wonder what he thinks of Quayle.
I don't admire all of Gov. Palins political beliefs, but I do admire the fact that she has faced a lot of heavy criticism-some fair, some not, and that she has come out swinging. I went to the signing as research and for the experience-and I can truly say, it was all worth it. Also, she was polite-and in this day and age, I admire that in anyone. Thanks for reading.