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Sarah Palin visits Elon, students wonder why university was chosen

Elon provides central location for high interest in Palin
By Christina Edwards
October 16, 2008

Ticket given for admission to Palin rally.

Ticket given for admission to Palin rally.

It was the campaign stop that launched a thousand questions.

Elon University announced Monday morning on the school’s Web site that GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin would be speaking on campus Thursday afternoon. Before tickets became avaliable Tuesday at noon, student attention had veered away from midterms and fall break planning to distinctly more political conversation: Where do I get tickets? Is she really coming? Do you think my professor will cancel class?

And a less easily answered question: why Elon?

“Why not?” said Mario Diaz, regional communications director for the McCain campaign. “It’s a beautiful area of North Carolina, and there’s a great amount of interest in [Palin] there. I’m glad we could accommodate supporters in that area.”

After scouting the campus last week, the campaign chose to hold the Road to Victory event at Latham Park in the North Athletics Complex.

“Honestly, I think it was partly because [Elon] has the baseball field; it was a great location. And it’s centrally located for the folks in Raleigh, High Point, Greensboro and Winston-Salem,” said David Ruden, spokesman at the Guilford-High Point Victory office.

The Elon College Republicans and students from the Elon law school provided a majority of volunteers for the event. Sophomore Nick Ochsner , president of the College Republicans, stressed the importance of having a strong campaign presence with only 19 days left to the election.

“We’ve been working with them all semester to help make sure Sen. McCain and the Republican Party has a strong presence on campus, and they knew they could turn to us for strong support,” said Ochsner.

The campaign contacted College Republicans to recruit volunteers for the event. Ochsner could not comment specifically on why Elon was chosen.

“In terms of campaign events and their relation to election day– we are not close by any means,” said Ochsner. “There are still three weeks left and a lot can happen in that time. It’s never too late for North Carolina voters to meet and get to know Sarah Palin and John McCain. As voters get to know them more today and in the next few weeks, they’ll quickly realize that the McCain-Palin ticket is the only ticket that will get America on the right track.”

Tickets were distributed to the outside community in several locations in the area, including local offices for the Republican Party.

“We had people lined up down the street,” said Ruden, commenting on the community’s interest in the event. “We had people from Asheville, Myrtle Beach, from as far as Atlanta. I’d say people in this area are more excited to see her than Obama, Biden, any other candidate.”

“We had a box full of tickets, and it was enough,” said Ruden. “But there was nothing left to get.”

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