Palin visits Iowa for movie première

BY BRIAN ALBERT | JUNE 30, 2011 7:20 AM

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PELLA, Iowa — Packed between the olive green walls of the 111-year-old Pella Opera House, hundreds of viewers sat patiently awaiting Sarah Palin and the premiere of The Undefeated as an organ player filled the air with patriotic hymns.

And though the former Republican vice-presidential candidate has not formally announced a decision regarding running in the 2012 presidential campaign, one expert said appearances such as this are comparable with book tours that candidates often use to garner public attention.

“What Palin’s doing is very similar to what candidates and potential candidates have historically done,” said David Redlawsk, a political-science professor at Rutgers University. “But in her case it’s not clear that it makes any real difference. She’s not new. Palin’s pretty universally well-known, and she doesn’t need to introduce herself.”

Numerous Tea Party shirts dotted the crowd Tuesday night, and some members of the audience said they were prepared to support her if she chose to run.

“The documentary did an excellent job of pulling back the curtain regarding the shit Palin had to go through,” said Theresa Caine, 65, of Pella. “The ‘lamestream’ media were really unfair to her, focusing on her demeanor rather than her points. I hope she runs for president and shows ’em all.”

Pella Mayor Darrell Dobernecker welcomed the audience and applauded Palin’s 2008 efforts.

“Gov. Palin, on behalf of these people, thanks for all your work in the 2008 campaign,” Dobernecker said. “You were a breath of fresh air. I like to see someone who’s not afraid to rock the boat. After all, it’s better to rock the boat than to sink it.”

Documentary director Stephen Bannon, who appeared with producer Bracken Evans, said the film was shot secretly in Alaska. Finding the perfect début venue was difficult, he said, because Iowa has plenty of great corn fields and barns.

But Bannon said the red bricks outside the Pella Opera House were “all the red carpet he needed.”

The film covered several critical points in Palin’s political career, including her confrontations with oil companies, her alleged misrepresentation by the press, and her vice-presidential campaign alongside 2008 GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain.

The final minutes of the film drew strong parallels between Palin and President Reagan.

The Undefeated also included several clips showcasing Palin’s past speeches, many of them eliciting cheers from the crowd. Footage of President Obama drew out equally enthusiastic boos and more than a few “shut ups.”

Palin stood before the crowd at the film’s conclusion, telling them that the film wasn’t about her but about hope — and not the “hopey, changey stuff, but real hope.”

“It’s about American values. It’s about work ethics that you here Iowa all embrace,” Palin said. “We don’t need to transform America into anything else. We need to restore it.

“We’re not going to squander it. We’re not going to blow it. We’re going to go down fighting,” sparking an eruption of applause.

The documentary will be released in select cities on July 15.

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