September 23rd, 2008
10:13 AM ET

Wasilla's "Palin Fever"

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/23/art.wasilla.jpg]

Tracy Sabo
CNN Senior Producer

For the last two days, I have driven from Anchorage to Wasilla, AK in an attempt to speak with Gov. Palin’s pastor as well as an African Bishop, Thomas Muthee, who is visiting the Wasilla Assembly of God Church for several days.

As soon as Photographer Dominic Swann and I turned off the Glenn Highway just short of Wasilla, it was clear that “Palin Fever” was catching in the Alaskan Governor’s hometown of about 7,000 people. The local movie theater marquis read “Good Luck Sarah” followed by the names of several movies now showing. Several rear windows of cars and SUVs had been painted in shoe polish or shaving cream as if their hometown hockey team was competing for a state championship… only all these makeshift banners read, “Go Sarah!” or “McCain-Palin” or “Sarah for V.P.”… or something similar.

We arrived earlier than expected into Wasilla and the temperatures were starting to drop (only 45 degrees when we arrived). So, we decided to stop at a local coffee “hut” for something quick to go. I call it a “hut” because in Alaska, most coffee shops are simple, square-frame, wooden structures placed in parking lots or along highways and serving only “drive-up” customers who would rather stay warm in their cars while ordering.

We should have been tipped by the large, red “Palin Fever” sign mounted on the side of the hut… but it still surprised us to see the entire “coffee specials” menu had been renamed to include, “The Road to the White House,” a 16 oz. Rocky Road White Chocolate Mocha.

There was also the “Sarah,” a 12 oz. Skinny White Chocolate Mocha, and the “Vice President,” a 16 oz. Vanila Praline Latte and even a “Red, White & Blue,” which was a 16 oz. Blueberry & Raspberry Italian Creme Soda. In addition to coffee and cream soda, this coffee hut was also now selling “Palin Fever” pins, t-shirts and bumper stickers. The young barista excitedly told us, “These t-shirts just came in, and we’re getting some other ones later this week!”

Political season in any town is usually marked with an air of excitement, some heated local debate, a multitude of campaign yard signs usually on the same corner, and feuding bumper stickers (sometimes even on the same car). However, after two day- trips to Wasilla, I couldn’t help but notice that there seemed to be no obvious competition here at all. From what I could see, this town looks to have made it’s choice, and the latest national polls showing an incredibly tight race don’t appear to have anyone in Wasilla worried in the slightest.

Filed under: Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. sharpay W.

    The mccain's owned more than 10 cars and obama has only 1
    if he becomes the president and reach mccain's age we'll see how
    many cars he will have.The Mccains worked for what they have right now.They don't need money they just want to serve the american people and foe real.

    September 23, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  2. Brenda Harris

    Is this true CNN about the 14,000 protesters I mean,
    Who or what is behind the hype that Palin and Mccain are running neck to neck with OBAMA, When so much of the bloggs reflect differently.
    What is really happening.

    September 23, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  3. Larry L.

    Why wouldn't they be proud,they all know her,and respect what she has already done for them and our country ,unlike the people here on this blog,who post the same thing,full of hate, over and over again.

    SARAH 08

    September 23, 2008 at 3:45 pm |
  4. No-One-Man

    Hi Anderson,

    I'm CNN guy for more than 20 years for the news! But not from now on.
    I Agree with Cindy/Keith on this; CNN needs to go to Chicago and look into Obama’s background too (20 years not 20 days). How many times did you guy do it with Obama ? when he is the main guy on ticket !

    September 23, 2008 at 3:37 pm |
  5. Linda Butler

    Why hasn't CNN been to Obama's stomping grounds in Chicago? That's where his family resides...that's where he made his name for himself...NO all the lawyers, reporters, tv crews have not been on a "witch" hunt for him. He is the fair [excuse the pun] haired boy who is going to SAVE them. He's a puppet for all the the hanger on's, the ones who have given him money etc. and they will have their hands out! He will say and do what they want him to. The NAACP [NOTICE HOW QUIET THEY HAVE BEEN?], the black churches haven't been quiet! Its all crocked! Its all planned. I will not vote this time...the next 4 years are going to be crazy! We are in for hard times and scarey time. Look out...Hillary & Bill [if he lives that long] will be coming back.

    September 23, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  6. Bruce

    Has anyone been to Plains, Ga (Jimmy Carter) or Crawford, Texas (Bush)? Enough said. Why is this even a story, that a hick town in a state with only about 500,000 people. The whole state of Alaska would fit in most of America's mid size cities. What was a bigger story CNN seemed to miss was while CNN was making a big deal of about 2,000 people welcoming Palin back about 14,000 were protesting why in the world can't people see her for what she really is!

    September 23, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  7. Kent, Illinois

    Here in Illinois, Obama is beating Palin/McCain by 20 points. In Iowa Obama is beating them by 12 points. Of course, Wasilla backs Palin. Though, they sit with a deficit of millions of dollars because she wanted a hockey arena of Olympic proportions. The excitement will die quickly after Friday's debate, and when Biden puts the Kindergarten Governor in her place in the VP debate.

    September 23, 2008 at 2:29 pm |
  8. Keith

    Agree with Cindy on this; CNN needs to go to Chicago and look into Obama's relationship with the deity there aka Mayor Daly and David Axelrod. It is pretty much a certainty that obama will be the POTUS, so CNN needs to let go the palin chat and go with a real indepth investigation on the Chicago political machine.

    Is CNN afraid of obama?

    September 23, 2008 at 2:27 pm |
  9. Fay, CA

    I would've preferred to hear more about the large Alaskan Women Reject Palin Rally that should've been covered more extensively than it was.

    September 23, 2008 at 12:46 pm |
  10. Ariana


    I can't believe you havent posted or talked about the 14, 000 plus Alaskan's that had a rally against Palin..What about KEEPING THE MEDIA HONEST...

    September 23, 2008 at 12:20 pm |
  11. Charlotte D

    Sorry Tracy, but it is news that a small town (or a large city really) would support a local girl? (I can say girl as I am a woman.) So local girl (or boy if that were the case) makes good and this is news? Let's see, maybe Native Daughter is a better term (as opposed to Native Son) and more PC.

    September 23, 2008 at 11:32 am |
  12. Maureen, Newman California

    I look forward to CNN's report tonight on Palin's infamous $26 Million Road to Nowhere.

    I am embarrassed that she managed to invite herself to the U.N. Meeings in New York. She should not be representing the United States in any capacity. Hopefully she will keep her mouth shut and just pose for the pictures that the McCain campaign desperately needs to try to boost her image.

    McCain is an extremely poor choice for President. He is exactly like Bush. But Palin is hoffifying. Americans should never elect a religious extremist. There is a reason State is kept separate from Church in America. We don't want to incur problems that are prominent in the Middle East. Palin has already proven that she supports combining Church and State in her State of Alaska. She has not been successful, but she has made attempts.

    Vote Obama/Biden if you want a President and V.P. to work for YOU.

    September 23, 2008 at 11:31 am |
  13. Sherry

    I am neither for or against Palin but I find it disturbing that she has a "hands off " policy surrounding her. Every politician or celebrity has been talked about, ridiculed, had their children discussed, etc. When it comes to her, everything that is said about her has a "meaning". The media and common people talked and ridiculed Senator Clinton and her daughter relentlessly but she took it is stride because she chose to be in the spotlight and that is just the way it is.

    September 23, 2008 at 11:15 am |
  14. Trish

    I think it would be obvious that a Coffee House wouldn't hold the total population of Wasilla. And downtown Wasilla would not hold the total population of cars owned in the town. So I would suspect that those adorned with the Palin Hype were a small percentage as were the citizens adorning the Coffee House. And would anyone expect those who are against Palin would be there to join in the Reverie? Don't think so. According to the reports on-line from residents of Wasilla there are MANY who don't hold any respect or love for Palin! Did you take any time to seek those citizens out and ask for their views? Report on the whole picture (views of the total population of Wasilla) wherein lies the real truth and full scale picture. It appears you only reported on the Pro Palin advocates within a small section of Wasilla.

    September 23, 2008 at 11:03 am |
  15. Rashelle

    They are very much proud to be from Wasilla, AL. Its also an honor to have Mrs. Palin as a running mate with McCain. Palin will very much grow on her stances on somethings she is very much neutral on now. give her some time

    September 23, 2008 at 11:01 am |
  16. Cindy

    Well you know Wasilla would be backing Palin. I mean it's her hometown. The only ones in Alaska who don't like her are the ones she ran against and beat or the ones she got kicked out of office for corruption. Oh and yes...the media who are roaming around trying to find any amount of dirt that they can. Even if they have to make it up.

    Why not go to Illinois and hang out around Obama's hometown and see what dirt you can dig up there CNN!? No...that won't happen will it. Because CNN is backing him all of the way!


    September 23, 2008 at 10:39 am |