From cats to shoes, clear-cut differences emerged at Palin appearance

Briefly, before heading out to the Sarah Palin rally, I contemplated accessorizing with a button boldly broadcasting “Cat Lovers For Obama,” but figured I’d get the ever lovin’ crap beat out of me if I did. Discretion prevailed, so as not to alienate dog-loving Republicans.

Even without my button, this was not a media-friendly crowd. When the national press photographers arrived and went to the site where the McCain-Palin campaign had instructed them to stand, men in the row behind me began screaming at them to “move the cameras” because they blocked their view. (Blocked mine too, but I looked at the oversize screens, which provided a closer look anyway.) The men and their wives had arrived early to get good seats and were furious at having their view blocked.

However, they didn’t yell any racial epithets at the black network television sound man, unlike a previous Palin audience this month where a man hurled a racial epithet and yelled, “Sit down, boy” to the middle-aged man.

I dreaded to think what would happen if, wearing the Obama button with two really cute kittens on it, I went nose to nose with the man wearing the T-shirt that proudly declared “Christian American, Heterosexual, Pro-Gun Conservative. Any questions?”

He got away before I could ask him how he liked the Alaska governor’s speech, which was heavy on women’s rights. Oh, not the right to choose an abortion, even if the pregnancy is from an act of rape or incest, that’s not a right the GOP vice presidential candidate believes in.

But she’s for equal pay for equal work and equal opportunities, and she’s against discrimination based on gender. OK, I’m on board with that.

There were two major differences between this crowd and the crowd that greeted Barack Obama the last time he was in Las Vegas: diversity and footwear.

The Palin crowd was all ages and incomes, but it was mainly white with only a smattering of minorities, though one Palin supporter waved a sign declaring “Mexican-American Catholic for McCain-Palin.”

The Palin crowd had more spiked heels in it than I’ve ever seen at any political rally. Some stood three hours on their feet waiting in line to get into the Henderson Pavilion.

Tania Farella, after two hours on her feet, left her friend Darla Mize in line and scooted over to the District to buy fancy $50 flip-flops.

They support the McCain-Palin ticket but were disappointed she spent so much time talking about women’s issues in her 20-minute speech. They wanted to hear more about economic solutions, saying those are the issues that are most important to them, especially because their incomes are based on real estate sales.

Mize, so tough she was still aboard her spiked heels, sells time shares in Las Vegas, and Farella is also in real estate and is a small-business woman. Both said Obama lacked the necessary experience to get the United States out of its economic misery and was too inexperienced at 47.

But the women’s rights message resonated with others. Norma Henry, 53, a Filipino who has lived in the United States for 30 years and works in housekeeping at the Rio hotel, was moved to tears by Palin’s speech. “She was standing up for the rights of women. I’m crazy about her,” said Henry, who wore sensible flats.

Later that night, I read Politico’s report that the Republican National Committee had paid more than $150,000 in September to clothe, shoe and accessorize Palin for the campaign. No matter what you think of her politics, she looks the part of the smart, professional woman who shops at Neiman Marcus, Saks, Macy’s, Barneys and Bloomingdale’s — all bills paid by the RNC under a new category reported as “campaign accessories.”

But another Palin story was the most shocking. ABC News reported that one of her Alaska friends, when asked to share something people wouldn’t know about Palin, volunteered: “She doesn’t care for cats very much.” Another said, “Oh yes, she’s afraid of my cat.”

No wonder when I went to buy a Palin button for my collection, I found no equal opportunity “Cat Lovers for Palin” and settled for a “Sarah Barracuda” button — which I won’t be wearing to the next Obama rally.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail her at or call (702) 383-0275.

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