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Delegates In St. Paul Say Palin Made Her Case


And for the Republican Party faithful in St. Paul, Palin's speech was the high point of what has otherwise been a rather sleepy convention. NPR's Robert Smith was sitting with the delegates during the speech.

(Soundbite of applause)

ROBERT SMITH: Sarah Palin had this crowd even before she said hello. Three solid minutes of standing ovation greeting the governor. Debbie Jocelyn(ph) from Delta Junction, Alaska was wiping away tears at the sight.

Ms. DEBBIE JOCELYN (Delegate): As an American and an Alaskan and as a woman, I'm just very, very proud of Sarah Palin. Look out, Joe Biden.

SMITH: The delegates here didn't just applaud the speech. They whistled, they hooted, they screamed you can do it, Sarah. Maryellen Young, a delegate from Holden, Missouri saw something she hasn't seen in politics lately.

Ms. MARYELLEN YOUNG (Delegate): Common sense, plain talk. She has been underestimated by the press. People assume that when you come from a small town you're not real smart.

SMITH: But Sarah Palin exceeded expectations of even those delegates who might have been a little nervous about her pick as VP.

Mr. CHRIS GUIDRY(ph) (Delegate): In my opinion, there was no doubt it was a hail Mary pass by Senator McCain, and I think she caught the ball tonight.

SMITH: Chris Guidry, a delegate from New Orleans, says that after a primary that showed off all the divisions in the Republican Party, Sarah Palin seems to transcend ideology.

Mr. GUIDRY: I think she's resurrecting the old Ronald Reagan coalition.

SMITH: You're comparing Sarah Palin to Ronald Reagan?

Mr. GUIDRY: I'm not comparing her to Ronald Reagan; I'm saying that I think that's what I saw tonight in this building. I haven't seen that excitement in the Republican Party since he was our president of the United States.

SMITH: That may seem like an exaggeration, especially describing a woman who was almost unknown to these delegates just last week. But no one in the convention hall seemed to be dwelling on Palin's resume. When I talked to the delegates, they didn't bring up the policy details in Palin's speech. Everyone wanted to discuss how Palin made them feel.

For Cam Caviso(ph) from Hawaii, it was a feeling of victory.

Mr. CAM CAVISO (Delegate): I believe this election is now won. Today it was decided by the speech of Sarah Palin.

SMITH: And to think only a week ago the Republicans were mocking Barack Obama for his mesmerizing speeches and his devoted fans. Turns out the GOP can be just as fired up by their own political celebrity who knows how to electrify a crowd.

Robert Smith, NPR News, St. Paul. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Robert Smith is a host for NPR's Planet Money where he tells stories about how the global economy is affecting our lives.