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Palin Visit Attracts Fans, Protesters

By Shelley Kofler, KERA News Director

Dallas, TX – Almost one thousand people jammed sidewalks in front of the Dallas Fairmont Hotel Friday afternoon as vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin arrived for a $1,000-a-plate fund raiser.

Hours before the Alaska Governor arrived, political activists packed the long block in front of Dallas' Fairmont Hotel. Police corralled sign-carrying Obama-Biden supporters on one end and banner-waving McCain-Palin supporters on the other.

Just about everyone in this rowdy crowd watched last night's televised vice presidential debate between Sarah Palin and her Democratic rival Joe Biden. And the assessment was predictable.

Dawn Meifert said the debate confirmed her support for Obama-Biden.

"I thought Joe Biden did a good job. He answered the questions, he refuted her answers and Sarah Palin did not give me a whole lot of substance in her answers last night," Meifert said.

Pamela Prince gushed about Palin's performance.

"I thought Sarah was quick on her feet. She was quick to point out when Joe Biden made mistakes and errors. I like her strength, her moral strength and her fiscal conservatism," Prince said.

The closest most fans got to seeing the Republican rock star was a glimpse through the window as her vehicle disappeared into the hotel's underground parking lot. The price for a closer look and a possible handshake was a $1,000 campaign contribution at the fundraiser. Dallas County Republican Chairman Jonathan Neerman says even then, getting up close and personal was tough.

"It's standing room only in the dining room area. I've been to a lot of events in that ballroom and I've never seen it that jam-packed and there are several hundred people still outside waiting to get in," Neerman said.

Neerman, who is trying to move Dallas County back into the Republican column, had hoped Palin would appear at a party-building event. But he said her mere presence had rallied the local GOP. It appears to have rallied Democrats as well.