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Palin draws plenty of people to today’s Springfield book-signing at Borders
Palin draws plenty of people to today’s Springfield book-signing at Borders

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin signs a copy of "Going Rogue” for Steve Presley Wednesday at Borders Books and Music in Springfield.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (Dec. 2, 2009) — Dirk Gress spent hours in line to get his copy of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s new book signed by her today in a Springfield appearance at Borders Books and Music, but it wasn’t his only purchase on Wednesday morning.

Gress also purchased a copy of “Great Joy” by Kate DiCamillo at Borders alongside his copy of Sarah Palin’s “Going Rogue.” The first book would join the boxes of others collected at Borders for the children of soldiers stationed at Fort Leonard Wood who are deployed overseas. Palin’s book was to be signed.

When asked why he purchased the additional book to donate, Gress had a simple answer: “Christmas!”

Gress’ donated book joined many others bound for Fort Leonard Wood families, according to store manager Gary Selby.

“Today was a fantastic day for that. We have boxes and boxes to give them,” Selby said.

The book drive for the children of soldiers deployed from Fort Leonard Wood is ongoing, but Palin came for just a few hours to sign copies of books. Gress was one of more than 550 people who stood out in the cold for hours in front of the store in Springfield for the chance to see the former Alaska governor; many hoped to have her sign their copies of the book.

Gress, who recently moved to the Springfield area, had been in line since 6:30 a.m. Wednesday and finally got into the store at 8:25 a.m. after nearly three hours standing in temperatures in the low thirties.

“I think that she’d be a good president, and I’d like to tell her that,” Gress said. “Make that a great president. She’s not your typical politician. She’s got some core beliefs that she is going to act on.”

Others in line had waited for much longer to get into the store.

Kathy Compton, of Lake of the Ozarks, said she had joined the line about 1:15 a.m.

“I just want to see Sarah Palin,” she said. “I’ve only come out for two politicians in my life, the other was Ronald Reagan. She’s a true conservative and I think that’s what we need. It’s refreshing.”

Since Palin would not have time to sign all of what Selby said were “hundreds, hundreds and hundreds” of Palin books purchased Wednesday, store managers issued wristbands to people in the order they arrived.

“I’m number 201, so I guess there were 200 people in front of me,” Compton said.

Compton, who said the “crowd was great” despite the long wait, noted that many were in line even before Wednesday. One of the earliest was Stephanie Jefferson of Utah, who arrived early Tuesday afternoon to guarantee that she got to see Palin.

“I had a hotel room, but I didn’t use it,” Jefferson said.

Jefferson said she hasn’t yet had a chance to read the book, but now has something to read on the plane home.

Bob Rutz of New Kingston, Ark., got to the store just before 2 p.m. Tuesday.

“Sarah Palin says the purpose of quitting (as governor of Alaska) was to help candidates get the country back, and I’m here to help her do it in spades,” he said.

Steve Presley of Springfield was the 36th person in line, having arrived at 6 p.m. Tuesday. A retired servicemember, he now runs Eagle Travel, a travel agency specializing in military reunions.

“You gotta have a strong defense,” he said after Palin signed his book. “She’s the only one who stood for veterans and the military.”

He said he doesn’t understand why some in the women’s movement moved against Palin.

“It just kills me that the people that want to represent women’s causes want to destroy and criticize her. For what reason, I don’t know. She’s a symbol of what women can do in today’s society,” Palin said.

Four students from Kanakuk Institute in Branson called everyone they know in the area to scrounge up sleeping bags and warm clothes to brave the cold weather, and also managed to get tickets to Palin’s speech tonight at College of the Ozarks. They got into line about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

When asked what made her spend hours in the cold overnight, Casie Hilton credited a friend, Brooke Roberts. Hilton, of Quincy, Ill., said her friend is a huge Sarah Palin fan, “so she got us out here. It ended up being the best night of our lives.”

“What’s better than a woman in politics who puts family first?” asked Roberts, who was standing next to Hilton wrapped in a borrowed orange sleeping bag, along with two other friends, Caroline Mooney of Jackson, Miss., and Heather Davis of Mendenhall, Miss.

Jerry Long of Ozark got in line about 2:30 a.m.

“This is a happening,” he said. “If you are old enough, you’ll know what a happening is. I’m here to encourage the woman to keep talking. Whether or not she is elected in the future is immaterial. There were about 250 people in front of me. I’ve got my grandson with me, it’s important to keep the young people involved, it’s their future.”

Long’s grandson, Garrett Stap of Los Angeles, said he didn't need to be persuaded to come.

“He’s joining me!” Stap said “I’m just here to see Sarah Palin again, to shake her hand I guess. I saw her when she was here at Bass Pro during the campaign.”

While the book signing was good for Borders’ bottom line, store managers said they’re pleased to be able to host the event for other reasons as well.

“I think it’s the greatest thing for Springfield, a great opportunity. People have come from different states, and it helps the local economy,” stated Borders assistant manager Denise Schultz. “It was arranged through Harper Collins. We’re just hosting the party.”

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