By Scott Meeker
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — In the spur of the moment, Arianna Russell decided to go rogue Tuesday evening.
The 22-year-old Ozark resident was driving to Warsaw when she learned that Sarah Palin would be holding a book signing the next morning in Springfield. She turned the car around and made her way to Borders, where a line had already started to form. She spent the night in a camping chair for the chance to meet the former vice presidential candidate and governor of Alaska.
“It was cold,” Russell said of the night spent waiting outside Borders, 3300 S. Glenstone Ave.
But worth it, she said.
“(Palin) is different than the other candidates who were running in the last election,” Russell said. “She’s straight with you and doesn’t try to hide things.”
Hundreds of supporters from throughout Southwest Missouri were on hand Wednesday morning to greet citizen Palin, who is in the midst of a tour in support of her new memoir, “Going Rogue.”
Brandon Shilling and Chris Fleming drove to Springfield from Joplin early Wednesday morning, arriving at Borders at about 6:30 a.m.
“I didn’t expect to see people with pillows and air mattresses camped out here,” Shilling said. “But I’ve followed (Palin) ever since the campaign and I’ll do anything I can to support her.”
Fleming said he looked forward to being able to meet Palin and express his appreciation.
“It’s an opportunity to shake her hand and tell her that we’re behind her,” he said.
Some of those in attendance Wednesday morning didn’t mince words when it came to why they were there to show support for Palin.
“Obama is a communist and McCain is a socialist,” said Springfield resident Mark Blumenstock, who identified himself as a Ron Paul Republican. “I don’t know what kind of president (Palin) would make, but she’s the voice of the conservative movement right now.”
Gary Selby, general manager of the Borders store, said the book signing was the biggest event in the store’s seven-year history.
“We’ve had a lot of signings by well-known authors, musicians and athletes,” Selby said. “Far and away, this is the biggest one we’ve had yet.”
He said the store learned that Palin would hold a signing in Springfield the same day that the book was released.
“The excitement has just built since then,” Selby said. “We’ve had a lot of people buying her book early in anticipation.”
Selby said that people began lining up outside Borders at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“It was a nice surprise to see that,” he said.
Media on hand for the event were instructed by Palin’s staff that they would not be able to ask any questions of her, and would only be allowed to take pictures during the first few minutes of the event.
A speech that she was to give later Wednesday at College of the Ozarks was also closed to media coverage.
Shortly before 10 a.m., Palin’s bus — emblazoned with the same picture of her from the book jacket — pulled into the parking lot.
Chants of “Sarah! Sarah! Sarah!” went up as Palin exited the bus along with her son, Trig, and other family members. As she made her way into the store, she stopped to shake hands and share a few hugs with some of those waiting to have their books signed.
Though the line of people moved swiftly past her at the signing table, she asked some visitors their names and exchanged quick pleasantries with others.
“Hi! How are you?” she greeted a man who was having her sign two books. “Thank you so much for being here!”
Carla Weirich, a teacher from New Bloomfield, said she was excited to have met Palin, even if for just a moment.
“I thanked her for being such an inspiration and for standing up for her convictions,” Weirich said.
Karen Morland, a Strafford resident who spent the night outside Borders in a hunting blind her husband set up, said she had a chance to meet Palin’s mother and aunt before having her book signed.
Morland said she hopes that Palin will continue to play a role on the political scene.
“Her beliefs and values are the same as mine,” she said.
Chris Hannema, a Springfield sports anchor, said he was there to get a copy of “Going Rogue” signed for his girlfriend, who is the reigning Miss Nebraska. In 1984, Palin was a runner-up for the Miss Alaska title.
“I like (Palin) as much as the next guy, but that’s why I was here,” he said.
Hannema said he came away impressed after meeting Palin.
“She’s very real and down to earth,” he said. “You get that impression seeing her on TV, but you never know how someone will be when you actually meet them.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
The 413-page book follows Sarah Palin’s life from her birth in Standpoint, Idaho, to wondering about the next stop in her future. Publisher HarperCollins announced earlier this week that the book has sold 1 million copies, and that the print run has been extended to 2.5 million copies.
<img src="http://www.joplinglobeonline.com/images/zope/extra.gif" border=0>Palin supporters gather for Springfield book signing<font color="#ff0000"> w/ poetry written for Sarah Palin </font>
By Scott Meeker
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