Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pick of Palin energizes area GOP efforts

TAMPA — It's Friday afternoon, and the Hillsborough County Republican Party headquarters is buzzing.

While Ann Carder sits at a small desk phoning to drum up support for Republican presidential nominee John McCain, Rodney Akers assembles yard signs and Suzy Davis collects donations from people who stop by the Brandon office.

Barbara Graham walks in and requests two bumper stickers.

"Make sure they say Palin on them," she says.

Republicans from Pinellas County to Pensacola say McCain's choice of the gun-shooting-hockey-mom governor of Alaska as his running mate has ramped up Floridians' interest in the GOP ticket dramatically.

"She is a mother, a wife. She has all the good attributes that are necessary for a vice president," Graham said, adding that having Palin on the ticket made her feel particularly good about voting for McCain. "I like what's up in her head. To me, she's smart."

After Palin made her speech at the Republican National Convention, the number of McCain volunteers in Pinellas County at least doubled, said Chet Renfro, who heads the county's presidential campaign effort.

"They're just saying 'We're so elated,' " Renfro said. "Women especially. They're so gung ho. They're ready to move out and conquer the world. They say it's the best thing that's ever happened to the party, that women are finally being recognized."

The day after Palin's speech, the phone in the Hernando County GOP office got so much use, the battery died.

Newly printed T-shirts, buttons and yard signs have been flying out of campaign offices.

"It's coming at us so fast it's like drinking out of a fire hydrant," said Commissioner Mark Sharpe, co-chairman of the McCain campaign in Hillsborough County. "That's when you know you're in the middle of a phenomenon."

Fred Manno, coordinator of the central Pasco County McCain campaign, said since Palin's selection, volunteers in the Land O'Lakes office have doubled to more than 90. "Most of them are women," he said.

Among those contributing to the surge: Anne DePury, 52, a longtime Tampa Republican who never volunteered for a political campaign until after she watched Palin's convention speech Sept. 3.

"I was sitting on the sofa cheering. I was very fired up," she said.

The next day, DePury called the McCain campaign office to request yard signs.

"As I spoke to the young man on the phone, he said, 'We're going to have a lot of phone calls to make,' and they really needed volunteers," she said. "I was eager to do it."

DePury, who has two adult children and works in the family business, said she relates to Palin as a working mom who shares her Republican values. And she said she likes that Palin "tells it like it is."

"Women can relate to that kind of a woman. She just gets the job done," DePury said.

Tammi Bulovas, 45, tells a similar story about her first foray as a campaign volunteer. Since Wednesday, she has been greeting a steady stream of Palin evangelists at the McCain headquarters in Pensacola.

She describes Palin as "the female Reagan."

"Before this, I would have never voted for a female," Bulovas said. "I always thought we were the weaker power — that's just how I was raised. And when McCain announced her, I was like "Oh my gosh, what is he thinking?'

"But then I looked her up. She's just like me. I love her."

But Democrats say Palin's selection has had a positive effect on their party as well. Volunteerism and fundraising are up. In the 24 hours after Palin's speech, Barak Obama raised $10-million and Republicans pulled in $1-million, said Adora Andy, spokeswoman for Obama's Florida campaign.

"People are losing their jobs, and want to see an administration that will invest in the middle class,'' she said.

"She's more extreme than George Bush,'' Andy said. "They're motivated by the fact that it could be worse with this vice presidential choice.''

Meanwhile, Ana Trinque, chair of the Hernando County Republican Party, says in addition to attracting women, Palin has energized Republicans uncomfortable with some of McCain's moderate positions, including opposing George Bush's tax cuts and support for allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for citizenship.

"The conservative base felt as though they weren't being addressed," Trinque said. "The fact that she's a woman is wonderful. But he chose someone who's a proven leader, who has done something about tax reform and wasteful spending in Alaska."

Like most Americans, Trinque had no idea who Palin was before McCain tapped her.

"Everyone was trying to think who could he choose. The bottom line is we thought he had to pick someone that would bring us energy," she said. "We couldn't have asked for a better choice."

Times staff writers Alex Leary and Bill Varian contributed to this report. Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.

Pick of Palin energizes area GOP efforts 09/12/08 [Last modified: Friday, September 19, 2008 3:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Yep, 2017 hurricane season really is more intense than normal

    Hurricanes

    It was only 25 days ago that Hurricane Harvey made landfall.

    A handout satellite image from Sept. 8, 2017, of, from left, Tropical Storm Katia, Hurricane Irma and Tropical Storm Jose, which would intensify into a hurricane. The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season has been unusually active. There have been 13 named storms this year. Only four other seasons since 1995 have had that many by Sept. 18. [NASA/NOAA GOES Project via the New York Times]
  2. Cannon Fodder podcast: Bucs could run into their nemesis

    Bucs

    Greg Auman finishes wrapping up the Bucs' win against the Chicago Bears and looks ahead to Sunday's game at Minnesota, where Tampa Bay could run into nemesis Case Keenum, in our latest Cannon Fodder …

    Bucs outside linebacker Lavonte David (54) sacks Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum (17) during a 2016 game. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  3. How to vamp out for Buffyfest in St. Petersburg

    Music & Concerts

    Who's your favorite superhero? I always answer Buffy.

    Photo illustration RON BORRESEN, Photo by Warner Brothers, Photo by SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
Members of the Florida Bjorkestra rehearse, Monday, 3/13/17, at the Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg for their upcoming concert. In the foreground is percussionist Joe Coyle.

Sarah Michelle Gellar
  4. The Mill restaurants offering half off when customers donate items for hurricane relief

    Blogs

    The Mill restaurant in St. Petersburg and its newly-opened location in Brandon are collecting donations to help residents of the Florida Keys who've been affected by Hurricane Irma.

    The dining room at The Mill in St. Petersburg photographed in 2015.
  5. Navy removes Jacksonville hospital workers who called babies 'mini satans' (w/video)

    Health

    JACKSONVILLE — A Navy hospital in Florida has removed some employees from patient care after Snapchat photos showed a nurse giving the middle finger to a newborn with a caption that said, "How I currently feel about these mini Satans."

    A Navy hospital in Florida has removed some employees from patient care after Snapchat photos showed a nurse giving the middle finger to a newborn with a caption that said, "How I currently feel about these mini Satans." [Photo from video]