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Thursday, June 3, 2010

"Palin-Heads" Could Fuel Sarah Palin Presidential Run

If you close your eyes and think, "Diehard Sarah Palin supporter," an image of Kevin DuJan is unlikely to come to mind.
A 33-year-old gay man who works as a development consultant and freelance writer, DuJan has long considered himself a Clinton Democrat. During the 2008 primaries, he spent his weekdays running phone banks for Hillary Clinton out of his home in the Boystown neighborhood of Chicago and traveled to 26 states and Puerto Rico on behalf of the candidate.
But after Clinton suspended her campaign, DuJan made a dramatic about face and spent the general election volunteering for the Republican ticket.
When John McCain named Sarah Palin his vice presidential nominee, DuJan was overjoyed, and Palin quickly became his new political heroine.  [...]
If Palin embarks on a presidential run next year, all signs indicate that it would be the fiercely loyal, yet decidedly nontraditional operatives like DuJan who would form the backbone of her campaign. Other Republican candidates will benefit from having more seasoned organizations, but none will surpass the fervor and energy that these "Palin-heads" are already providing on behalf of their political heroine. [...]
"We would literally walk across hot broken glass for this woman," says Nicole Coulter (at left), a frequent contributor to the most prominent pro-Palin web site,, which serves as an up-to-the-second source of news and analysis of all things Palin. "She represents something very powerful. It's deeper than politics. It's much, much deeper than politics. It's cultural. It's just this zeitgeist of raw emotion, kind of what our country is all about."
Of course, there are other national politicians attract passionate support, but with Palin's biggest fans, the devotion to the former Alaska governor resides on a deeply personal level that seems unique in American life.  [...]
Her speaking patterns and personal background notwithstanding, Coulter is in some ways as unlikely a Palin devotee as DuJan is. As a young woman, she was a died-in-the-wool liberal who protested the first Gulf War and cast her first vote in a presidential election for Jessie Jackson in the 1988 Utah Democratic primary.
Now Coulter devotes at least an hour or two each day to Palin-related research and writing.  [...]
Thirty-nine-year-old seventh grade English teacher Adrienne Ross (at left) started her pro-Palin web site, MotivationTruth, soon after Election Day in 2008. In July of 2009, Ross left her home in Hudson, New York, for a month-long trip to Alaska. It was a Palin pilgrimage of sorts that doubled as a sightseeing trip.[...] 

Ross and other prominent members of what might best be described as the "Sarah Palin community" reject the notion that they are blind followers in a political cult of personality. They are clearly sensitive to being painted with a label that they instead attribute to President Obama's biggest fans.
"I'm sure she's had some impact on it, but I wouldn't go as far to say she's changed my life, and I'm suddenly hearing music and the light from above is shining on me," says Josh Painter, who manages a Palin blog roll and edits Texas4Palin from his hometown of Bryan, Texas. "That's Barack Obama territory-he's 'The One.' Sarah Palin is just a woman we relate to."  [...]
Of all the pro-Palin blogs, Conservatives4Palin consistently has the biggest impact and reach. Its influence is evident in that it is the only online destination specifically devoted to supporting a potential 2012 candidate to make a recent list of the 100 most popular conservative web sites.
Most of Conservatives4Palin's contributors are not shy about their desire to see Palin run for president in 2012. Palin herself long ago took notice of the site, giving it one of her patented shout-outs in her best selling book. She even scooped up two of its founding contributors last year and hired them to paid positions on her political staff.
"She's always said the best ideas don't come out of Washington, DC, and so there's no reason why she wouldn't follow that belief in choosing her staff," says Rebecca Mansour, one of the former Conservatives4Palin bloggers turned current Palin staffer.  [...]
Like Adrienne Ross, 72-year-old retired Air Force Colonel O.P. Ditch started his web site, Vets4Sarah, shortly after the 2008 campaign and has seen Palin speak six times. When he and his wife attended a book signing event in Roanoke, Virginia, last November, Palin's staff made sure that they were the first to greet the governor when she entered the bookstore.
When Kevin DuJan and one of the other Hillbuzz contributors ventured to Washington, Illinois, to hear Palin speak last April, two members of Palin's staff made sure that they would have personal access to Palin.
For DuJan, it was the third chance he had gotten to meet her face to face, and this time, he wasn't going to let the opportunity go without imparting some political advice.  "I said, 'Don't let the RNC, don't let Michael Steele, and the media talk you out of it. Run. We think this is your calling,'" DuJan recalls.  He was particularly heartened by Palin's response. "She just looked at me, and just like she does with a wink in her eye, and said , 'Don't you worry. I got their number.'"
Scott Conroy is a CBS News digital journalist, and is the co-author of "Sarah from Alaska: The Sudden Rise and Brutal Education of a New Conservative Superstar."
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