About 1,000 fans lined up to greet former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at a book-signing at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — They look at the billboard-sized photo of Sarah Palin on the side of her big blue bus, the picture from the cover of her new book, and many of her fans see themselves.
In the picture, Palin smiles confidently, though the sky behind her seems to threaten rain.
The women who waited in line for hours Monday at Fort Bragg to see Palin have game faces, too, the ones they show their children when their husbands are away at war, when they’re tired and they have nothing but their faith and their guts to keep them going.
“She’s such a strong female,” said Jacqui McDowell, 28, who stood in the rain outside the post exchange with two other military wives, their six young children with them.
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The women’s husbands have been in Afghanistan since May. Palin’s oldest son is in the military and spent a year in Iraq.
“She understands,” McDowell said.
If President Obama’s fans love him because he is who they believe they can be, Palin’s fans love her because she is who they are.
“I think our nation needs a godly woman to lead us. We need somebody with wisdom from God, and Sarah Palin is a woman with wisdom,” said Linda Forsberg, who was among more than 1,000 fans who were in line an hour before Palin was scheduled to arrive at the post.
The event also drew service members in uniform, military spouses and children, as well as civilians, who also waited to have their cars searched so they could come on post.
Dozens of news reporters and photographers also came, eager to see Palin interact with families at one of the two Army posts on her nation-hopping book tour. The other military stop will be at Fort Hood, Texas, on Dec. 4.
On the tour, Palin has been a book-signing machine.
Arriving at Bragg about 15 minutes late, she went straight to a folding table in an atrium at the front of the exchange and took up her pen, without any opening remarks. As helpers opened copies of the book and placed them in front her, Palin signed with her right hand and squeezed the hands of fans with her left. She looked people in the eyes, for just a second or two.
She hugged a few. She thanked them all.
To keep the line moving, she would not personalize the signatures; she wouldn’t pose for photos, and she wouldn’t sign anything but “Going Rogue.”
She made one exception.
Malan Heitenreich asked if the former Republican vice-presidential candidate would sign the bright red cast on her left foot, the result of a stress fracture. When Palin agreed, Heitenreich hitched her foot onto the table.
“I think she is a great woman and has wonderful ideas,” Heitenreich said.