Sam the cab driver wasn’t entirely certain of the exact location of the big warehouse outside the town of Jacksonville, Indiana, where Sarah Palin was holding a rally — her third in the crucial swing state in less than two weeks.
Then Sam’s face brightened.
“I guess we’ll just follow that Dodge in front of us,” he chuckled.
Ahead was a big dusty white pick-up truck festooned with bumper stickers proclaiming cute slogans such was ‘In Guns We Trust’.
Welcome to the Three G’s of Palinworld: God, Guns and Gal-Power.
Since John McCain proudly paraded her like a prize poodle at the Republican national convention last August, the dinky daughter of Alaska has sent a seismic shock through the campaign, delighting conservatives, appaling liberals, dividing feminists and discombobulating males who nurture fantasies about sexy secretaries wearing specs and pinned-up hair.
But increasingly, the poodle’s tail has been wagging the top dog.
The running-mate that John McCain chose with less deliberation than most women use to pick a pair of new shoes has been hogging the headlines, and casting a Barbie-shaped shadow over McCain’s campaign.
But to the thousands of supporters patiently and cheerfully filing into the warehouse on Wednesday, Sarah Palin is One of Them, a devout, can-do hockey mom who is bravely making her way to Washington to kick some ass.
“I think she’s awesome,” said Miriam Pierce from nearby Louisville, Kentucky.
“She’s like spring water, like a breath of fresh air. Sarah Palin believes in God and in the Bible,” she explained.
Miriam was dressed from head to toe in gool ol’ Republican red, as requested on the invitation – almost everyone streaming into the cavernous steel warehouse were sporting red T-shirts or baseball caps.
There were lots of sturdy women wearing pink ’Pitbull and lipstick’ T-shirts, ‘Vote for Life’ T-shirts and Obamanation tops, while a woman from the National Rifle Association was doing a roaring business handing out stickers which read ‘I’m A Bitter Gun Owner & I Vote’.
Funnily enough, there wasn’t a John McCain for President poster in sight.
Then the decibel-level rose to the steel-girdered roof as the McCain/Palin ‘Straight Talk Express’ tourbus roared to a halt beside the stage. Out hops Sarah with husband Todd at her side.
Having been excoriated by gleeful Democrats for swapping her ‘hockey mom’ style for Imelda Marcos notions of sartorial grandeur, Sarah was most soberly dressed in a drab dark brown suit and modestly-heeled black knee boots.
She swept onto the stage in a flurry of hulking Secret Service agents.
The governor of Alaska may be petite, but lord, what a voice. TV doesn’t really do it justice, softening it to a folksy mix of Fargo-meets-The Waltons. She also talks in bumper stickers. When she talks about “energy independence” she scoots through concepts such as wind power and biofuels before returning to her favourite theme; “it’s drill baby drill and mine baby mine,” she yells.
And the reason that Sarah wants to “ramp up production of energy sources” is because she’s just not too keen on giving American dollars to “furriners”.
“There are hundreds of millions of dollars that are circulating in these furrin countries, some of those dollars end up in the hands of volatile furrin regimes who do not like America,” she announced to a volley of sympathetic boos.
Sarah is fearless in acting as Presidential pitbull and is certainly a woman on a mission.
In a TV interview earlier that day, she made it clear that even defeat next week wouldn’t derail her plans. Vowing to remain a player in 2012 she said: “I’m not doing this for naught.”
If Sarah had a bumper sticker on her snowmobile, it would surely read, “My other car’s a Presidential limo”.
Palin's 2012 vow leaves McCain aides speechless