Sarah Palin gets mixed welcome at Rolling Thunder Memorial Day rally

By Kase Wickman
Sunday, May 29, 2011 19:19 EDT
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Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin continues fueling the will-she-won’t-she speculation about her plans for 2012 and whether she will pursue the GOP nomination for the presidency. Sunday, she arrived at the Rolling Thunder Memorial Day weekend motorcycle rally for veterans in Arlington, VA to a mixed welcome.

Palin rode into the press and speakers area at the front of the rally on a black motorcycle, and was immediately flocked by press and admirers, overwhelming security. Palin’s husband, Todd, and daughters Bristol and Piper also attended the rally.

“Don’t come here and try to make a political point out of it,” Joe Clark, a rally attendee from Pennsylvania, told The Washington Post. “If she’s just here backing the cause of the entire run, that’s fine. If she’s just trying to get votes, she should just stay out of it.”

Rolling Thunder spokesman Ted Shpak told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell earlier this week that Palin had not been invited to the rally, and said that “this has been taking away from the reason we’re here. It’s been a big distraction.”

Rep. Allen West (R-FL) was also in attendance at the rally, and seemed to agree with Shpak’s “distraction” analysis.

“I don’t think any talk about Palin coming here is right. Here, the talk is about Memorial Day, the talk is about, like I said, those people who have given that ultimate sacrifice,” West told Talking Points Memo. “After you served 22 years in the United States Army, what brings me out today is there are people here that I served with, there are people here who served with my older brother in Vietnam.”

Palin has announced a nationwide bus tour, but the itinerary remains a mystery.

Watch video of Palin immediately after arrival, embedded via YouTube below, and recorded by Talking Points Memo.

Kase Wickman
Kase Wickman
Kase Wickman is a reporter for Raw Story. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and grew up in Eugene, OR. Her work has been featured in The Boston Globe, Village Voice Media, The Christian Science Monitor, The Houston Chronicle and on NPR, among others. She lives in New York City and tweets from @kasewickman.
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