By SEAN COCKERHAM, ZAZ HOLLANDER and RINDI WHITE
Anchorage Daily News
September 04, 2008
At the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., that has translated into reporters from around the world forming long lines in front of each Alaska delegate, waiting their turns to interview someone from Palin's home state.
"It's ridiculous," said Chris Nelson, who is leading the Alaska delegation.
Nelson said it's a far different experience than the GOP convention four years ago in New York.
"We sat in the back and nobody really paid any attention to us," he said.
Alaska delegates said they'd briefly spoken about how to handle the media, but denied a network television report they had four hours of media training.
Alaska delegates were wearing plastic hard hats that said, "Drill Here. Pay Less." They sported reflective construction vests with photos of caribou grazing at the Prudhoe Bay oil fields on the back.
They said they were enthusiastically behind Palin, even if they may have had policy differences with her in the past.
One of the Alaska delegates is Randy Ruedrich, the state Republican Party chair whom Palin had accused of ethics transgressions, which helped her gain the reformist reputation that attracted McCain, who has said he admired how Palin "fought party bosses."
Ruedrich responded in a Tuesday interview that the party has worked to support Palin, as it has all Republican candidates who make it past the primary.
"We probably need to spend a little more time making people understand," Ruedrich said.
Meanwhile, in Wasilla, Alaska, home of the Palin family, Mayor Dianne Keller called a press conference in self defense Tuesday to establish some ground rules for the media, which has swamped her and city officials with requests for interviews and information.
CBS and ABC news were there. The L.A. Times, Politico, the Washington Independent, and at least four Japanese outlets.
The rules? If you want to ask questions about Palin, file requests in advance; 10-minute interviews, mornings only. Any records requests require a form filed with the city clerk. And no long-distance phone calls will be returned.
Reporters asked for basic details about Wasilla, about how Palin's political career got started, how she treated staff when she was mayor. And what about local taxes?
Keller said she never hung out with Palin but intends to vote for the McCain-Palin ticket. With little prompting, she repeated the McCain campaign talking point about Palin having "more executive experience than anybody on the ticket."
Being mayor of Wasilla is akin to running the country, Keller said: Both involve picking good advisors.
A reporter asked Keller about rumors Mayor Palin once wanted to pull certain books off library shelves.
Keller told him to file a records request.
"We are a small city with a small staff and our residents and business community expect us to fill their needs as well as the needs of the media," Keller said.
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