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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Palin power in Tampa



TAMPA - More than 5,000 people are at the Tampa Convention Center this morning awaiting Sarah Palin's entrance. That's nearly twice as many as John McCain attracted to the same venue. Mingle among the crowd dotted  with "They will know we are Christian by our vote" signs and "Joe to Plumber" and pink "Palin Power" T-shirts, and you don't find folks putting much stock in the polls showing grim numbers for McCain-Palin. Many of those polls show Palin has been a drag on the McCain ticket, especially with independent  voters, but here Palin Power reigns.

"She's brought back the old feeling of of the Republican party that we've lost over the last four to six years,'' said Bill Fritz, a 69-year-old flag salesman from Plant City.

"If you want to believe the polls, that's fine but we've got a long way to...This is the first election I've ever gotten excited about. This is the first rally I've ever attended, and this is the first election where I've sent in a contribution," said Clay Mueller, a 67-year-old sales representative from Bradenton. "Palin brought more life to the campaign, and really kicked it in the butt."

But his wife, Betty Lou Mueller, remains undecided. She finds Palin appealing, but opposes making abortion illegal and prefers Barack Obama's emphasis on expanding health care. "I'm surrounded by all these Republicans who convinced me to vote for Bush, and I've regretted it ever since,'' said Mrs. Mueller, 66. "I'm definitely not going to be an early voting. I'm waiting until the last minute, hoping for a  lightning strike to help me decide."

Video: Elisabeth Hasselbeck introduces Palin

[Last modified: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 4:40pm]


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