Jackie Griffith waits at the door to Republican headquarters where she arrived early to get tickets to Sarah Palin's campaign appearance.
Huddled against the office door to stay out of the chilly winds blowing along Kingshighway, Grifith said shortly before 3 p.m. that she had been standing in line since 1:20 p.m. after hearing that the charismatic vice presidential candidate would visit Southeast Missouri.
"A little sacrifice is good for the party," Griffith said.
By the time doors opened a half-hour late to distribute the tickets — six per person maximum — the line had grown to more than 200 people standing along the western side of the road. Hundreds more waited patiently in line at the Osage Community Center, where an alternative distribution site was established to ease parking problems at the political headquarters.
Palin will headline a rally that local Republicans hope will be the kick-off to a massive get-out-the-vote effort. A major party candidate appearance helps rally the troops and identify volunteers who will make telephone calls, knock on doors and help drive voters needing a ride to the polls, said Donna Lichtenegger, former county vice-chairwoman and local leader of U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof's campaign for governor.
"It is always fun when the big guys come to town," Lichtenegger said.
Palin's visit will be the first by a major party nominee to Southeast Missouri since the national nominating conventions in August. Palin is the running mate of U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee.
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, the Democratic nominee, visited Cape Girardeau in May before he had secured nomination.
While Griffith waited at the front of the line, at the end of the line just before 3 p.m. stood Karla Kiefner of Cape Girardeau County and Debby Schaefer of Cincinnati, Ohio, — who was in town for homecoming and decided to stay after hearing about the rally. "I'm going to stay to see our girl," Schaefer said.
Kiefner said she hoped to get the full allotment of six tickets and said that if she did she would bring her two daughters, aged 12 and 16, to hear the Alaska governor.
"It is an historic event and she is a good role model," Kiefner said. "They (her daughters) are very aware of the political process."
McCain was not the first choice of voters in Southeast Missouri in the Republican presidential primary. Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won many counties, while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney carried Cape Girardeau County. There was no lack of enthusiasm, however, for the McCain-Palin ticket among those who stood patiently until the tickets arrived.
"She just made me more enthusiastic," Kiefner said. "She brought a real face to the ticket."
At the Osage Center, Jim Houseworth of Carterville, Ill., left work and drove to Cape Girardeau to make sure he secured a seat. "Its a big deal," he said, noting that he would be bringing his two college-age daughters and friends to the rally. "If people saw the truth, they would feel the same way."
If any tickets remain, they may be picked up at one of four sites around Southeast Missouri. There is a limit of six tickets per person and the person requesting the tickets will be required to give their name and full address. The information will be used to fill out databases of GOP supporters in the area.
To find a ticket, contact one of the following locations between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. today and Wednesday:
* Cape Girardeau County Republican Headquarters, 601 N. Kingshighway, Cape Girardeau.
* Butler County Republican Headquarters, 1901A Greenwood Drive, Poplar Bluff, Mo.
* Scott County Republican Headquarters, 900 S. Main St., Sikeston, Mo.
* St. Francois County Republican Headquarters, 301 N. Washington, Farmington, Mo.