Palin makes Columbia stop

COLUMBIA --- For a few hours Friday, a bookstore in Columbia became a little bit of "Palin Country" as the former Alaska governor wrapped up her latest book tour with a stop in a key presidential primary state.

 

Sarah Palin signed copies of her book America by Heart in South Carolina, a state that has sided with the winner of the Republican presidential primary every year since 1980.

Palin hasn't committed to a presidential run in 2012, but she had people from gray-haired ladies wearing "The Arctic Fox" sweatshirts to a couple of people sitting in "Don't Tread on Me" lawn chairs urging her to save their country.

"We need someone like her to clean things up," said Gail Martin, who was getting a book signed for her and her 8-year-old daughter. "She's not like anyone up there now."

South Carolina will be the first state in the South to send its Republicans to the polls in 2012, and Palin is well-liked here. An exit poll taken on Election Day found more than 80 percent of people who identified themselves as Republicans approved of Palin.

But they also split among Palin, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee when asked which candidate they favored to be the party's nominee in 2012.

At the Books-A-Million in Columbia on Friday, it was hard to find anyone who wasn't planning on voting for Palin if she runs.

"She's so down to earth. She's not like those other politicians. She's someone that doesn't show off and isn't afraid to speak the truth to anyone," said Pat Greenwood, who was getting her two books signed for her children.

Anyone who wanted a book signed first had to wait for several hours in a damp chill to get a wristband Wednesday that ensured they would see Palin. Then, most of them lined up in the cold again for several more hours to get as close to the front of the line as possible.

The rules for the signing were strict. No pictures with Palin, and she would only sign her name -- no personal messages. Reporters were only allowed less than 10 minutes behind a curtain to watch her and couldn't ask questions.

Palin isn't the only potential candidate hanging around South Carolina about 14 months before the primary.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum will be at Republican events today in Charleston, while former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich will be the headliner of a Dec. 16 fundraiser in Spartanburg County called "Christmas with Newt!"