After Toasting Tampa, Palin Panders to Red Sox Nation

By Julia Hoppock

Oct 15, 2008 11:48pm

ABC News’ Imtiyaz Delawala reports: At a rally in Salem, New Hampshire this evening, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin committed what many consider an unforgivable sin: sports bigamy, or rooting for two teams at once. 

Located just a 45-minute drive from Fenway Park, Salem is firmly planted in die-hard Red Sox country. And Palin sought to play to the crowd with her opening remarks at the outdoor evening rally, shortly before Sen. John McCain faced off with Sen. Barack Obama in tonight’s final presidential debate.

"New Hampshire, I gotta tell ya, I am looking forward to the debate tonight right here in Red Sox Nation," Palin said to roaring approval from the crowd, many of them decked out in Red Sox gear. "We’re just 20 days out from the election and it’s gonna come right down to the wire, and we’re counting on you because Red Sox fans know how to turn an underdog into a victor, and that’s exactly what you can help us do on November Fourth!"

The Red Sox are currently down three games to one in the American League Championship Series to the Tampa Bay Rays. The two AL East rivals face off again Thursday night in a game that could put the Rays in the World Series for the first time in their franchise’s history.

While Palin’s support for the Red Sox could be seen as noble support for the underdog as they stand on the brink of elimination, there’s just one problem with her remarks: Palin made nearly identical comments in Florida last week in praise of the Tampa Bay Rays. At a rally in Clearwater, Florida last Monday, Palin had spoken glowingly of the Rays, who won the AL East division this year for the first time – a division title that has been in the sole possession of either the Red Sox or New York Yankees since 1997.

"It’s great to be here in the home of the Tampa Bay Rays too. I know that earlier some of the experts this year were kind of tough on the Rays. I’ve been there," Palin said, drawing laughs from the Tampa-area crowd.

"But what a difference a season can make, and now the Rays in the playoffs for the first time ever," Palin continued. "So Florida knows a little something about turning an underdog into a victor, and together that’s what we can do."

DNC Spokesman Damien LaVera pounced on Palin’s remarks, issuing a statement following the Salem rally.

"Apparently this team of mavericks thinks straight talk means saying one thing to Rays fans and another to Red Sox fans," LaVera wrote. "Fortunately, voters in both Red Sox Nation and Florida can put a champion for working families in the White House by electing Barack Obama."

Palin has made sprinkling in positive references to local sports teams a staple of her campaign trail appearances – especially noting when a town has a minor league hockey team, allowing her to pay homage to the "hockey moms" in the audience.

For example, the day after the vice presidential debate in St. Louis earlier this month, Palin spent the day at two Texas fundraisers in Dallas and San Antonio, where she made references to both cities’ NBA teams.

In Dallas, Palin played to the crowd by saying, Sounds like the home town of the Dallas Mavericks is ready to put a team of mavericks in the White House."  But just hours later in San Antonio, Palin praised the Spurs, the Mavericks’ interstate Western Conference rival, telling the audience there, "We’re Spurs fans. One of my heroes has always been David Robinson," referring to the Spurs’ former all-star center. 

Palin’s rallies in Florida last week were notable for crowds whipped up over Palin’s comments connecting Sen. Obama to former 60′s radical William Ayers, causing some in the audiences to yell out comments such as "Terrorist!" and "Traitor!” as Palin spoke.

But at tonight’s rally in Salem, one man in the crowd yelled out a comment that some in Red Sox Nation may consider a far worse slur than any hurled on the campaign trail last week.

As Palin made her Red Sox reference, one man shouted, "Obama’s a Yankees fan!"

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