Todd Palin talks the Second Amendment in Minnesotaby Bob Kelleher, Minnesota Public Radio
Hermantown, Minn. — The tone was decidedly pro-gun and pro-2nd amendment.
Ernie and Roben Feldhaus squeezed into the back of the crowd crammed into the Gander Mountain Parking lot in Hermantown, just outside Duluth. At their feet was Angel, a snow-white, Alaskan Eskimo dog decked out in a blue McCain/Palin banner.
The Iron Range couple came 65 miles from Hoyt Lakes, to rally in support of gun ownership, and to support Norm Coleman's Senate bid. But mostly, Roben said, they came to see the man known in Alaska as the "first dude."
"Todd, mainly," Roben Feldhaus said. "I think it's great that his wife's a hunter. I mean that's right up my alley. "As a woman, I think that every woman should go out there and try hunting."
Palin wasn't the only celebrity. The event opened with Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association. LaPierre talked about a recent Supreme Court decision defending the rights of Americans to own firearms.
"That's monumental, because that means it's just like speech; it's just like voting," LaPierre said. "All law abiding people are able now to get to that freedom in this country."
He said senators and congressman signed on in that case in support of gun ownership as a fundamental right. But he said Senators Obama and Biden did not.
LaPierre went on to endorse Senator Norm Coleman before bringing on the star of the show, Todd Palin. Palin was grateful and upbeat, though not terribly eloquent.
"I've been traveling with Sarah, and it's been quite a roller coaster, but it's all been just a real positive adventure," Todd Palin said. "Everywhere we go, the rallies are just a packed house, real positive message. And so I'm just glad to be a part of the McCain-Palin ticket and help out where ever I can."
He thanked the crowd for turning out not for himself, but for Senator Norm Coleman who's locked in a tough race for the Senate with Democrat Al Franken.
"Because he is one of you," Palin said. "He stood by you, he protected your rights on land, land rights and second amendment rights. It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you your United States Senator. Someone who has stood with hunters, with sportsmen and women. Who knows that second amendment isn't just another amendment. It's our right to stand up for and to protect."
Palin's appearance was brief, he spoke just three minutes before bringing on Senator Coleman. For the most part, Coleman too stuck to the outdoorsy, sporting and second amendment rights theme. But, he also played a bit to the crowd with his admiration for Sarah Palin.
"Any person on our national ticket who can lace up a kid's ice skates, who can ride a snow machine and can gut a moose, she's going to do very well in this part of America," Coleman said."
Coleman said he stands strong with those who stand for the second amendment. He talked about his hunting guns, and he suggested opponent Franken's interest in guns is new found and only political. And, Coleman offered several comments in favor of Presidential Candidate John McCain.
Coleman only talked for seven minutes, and that was half of the entire event. It ended with a chorus of 'God Bless America'.
Throughout the rally, police kept a contingent of banner waving Obama and Franken supporters about 100 yards away.
Norm Voorhees, of Duluth, put down his Obama sign to slip in among main crowd. Voorhees represents an Iron Workers union local and he said he's not surprised by the big turnout, but he gives it an optimistic spin.
"I'm hopeful maybe they're here, hopefully get better educated, make a better decision when November voting comes," Voorhees said.
Russ Dahl, of Duluth, had just come a short distance. He supports the full Republican ticket, but mostly he came to support gun rights.
"[The] second amendment is very important," Dahl said. "You just have to look at what happened to Hitler, what he did. He took them away, and we had to fight."
Like the others who came to see Palin, Coleman and LaPierre, Dahl didn't seem disappointed with the short program.
- All Things Considered, 10/16/2008, 5:48 p.m.