Todd Palin talks snowmobiles, not politics, at Arctic Cat
THIEF RIVER FALL - Todd Palin's pitch for votes was short. After an hour-long tour of Arctic Cat's production plant, the husband of Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin used less than a minute today to solicit support at the polls. ...
THIEF RIVER FALL - Todd Palin's pitch for votes was short.
After an hour-long tour of Arctic Cat's production plant, the husband of Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin used less than a minute today to solicit support at the polls.
"Alaskans and Minnesotans have a lot of the same qualities," he said. "They like hunting and the outdoors.
"If you vote for the McCain/Palin ticket, you'll have advocates for what I love to do, you love to do and Sarah loves to do. I encourage your support."
Palin, dressed casually in blue jeans and a shirt with rolled-up sleeves under his Arctic Cat jersey, was asked if it was a political event or a snowmobile promotion event. "Both," he answered. In his two brief talks and during the autograph session, he spent considerably more time praising the snowmobile brand he races than the Republican ticket.
He fielded only two questions from media members before his handlers cut if off. "He's not a political guy. He's a snowmobile racer," said Tom Steward, a communications director for the presidential ticket. "He's not running for office."
Palin's morning appearance at Arctic Cat was part of a two-day tour that also included stops in the northern Minnesota cities of Duluth, Grand Rapids, Bemidji and Moorhead. Steward said Palin's tour was to appeal to voters who enjoy the outdoors and favor gun rights.
"Todd's trip here and Hillary Clinton being dispatched to the Iron Range soon is proof positive that Minnesota is still in play," he said.
The Republican Party supplied campaign signs and lapel stickers for autograph-seekers. But Arctic Cat management had warned employees not to make political statements or ask political questions. And Arctic Cat items may have outnumbered campaign items at the autograph table.
Palin and racing partner Scott Davis were popular with the Arctic workers during the tour of the assembly line operation, even though Palin revealed he once owned a Polaris dealership.
"Arctic Cat needs someone hot like him for its racing team," said Marcie Fisher of the payroll department. The term "hottie" was used repeatedly by female employees.
Karen Flynn, a pre-assembly supervisor, said the warm reception was mostly because of Palin's performance on the Arctic sleds. "He's been a very productive racer and a strong supporter of our product," she said. "We're all very big race fans here."
Line worker Jason Richardson said Palin's status could influence some votes, but probably not many. "A presidential vote is too important to get your vote swayed just because he's a racer," he said.
But Marilyn Swanson said her support for Palin is because of both his party and for his Arctic ties. "Hopefully he'll be Mr. Dude," she said.
Probably because Palin says little politically, he isn't routinely followed my national media. The only exception Friday was a television crew from "Entertainment Tonight," which is doing a feature story on him.
That feature may not be the only national exposure for the Arctic Cat brand. Employees confirmed that Saturday Night Live officials have telephoned, seeking Arctic Cat clothing. Sarah Palin will appear on the satiric comedy show Saturday after several weeks of being lampooned by Tina Fey.
Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .