Just in case you've forgotten the name, Todd is known in Alaska as the "first dude" ... he's the husband of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
Anyhow, he got a warm welcome from many of the racers and fans who turned out for the big event. He wouldn't take any questions from the press, but trust me, we tried. Secret Service people were everywhere, along with lots of his campaign people who made sure we didn't ask anything, especially about the Troopergate scandal involving him and his wife.
All in all, it was a good time. Todd loves snowmobiles, so he seemed to be heaven.
Here's the story I wrote for the New Hampshire Sunday News:
By Jason Schreiber
Sunday News Correspondent
FREMONT - Surrounded by hundreds of snowmobiles and the sound of roaring engines, Todd Palin was in his element.
He may be the husband of a vice presidential candidate, but he didn’t look like one yesterday.
“He’s a blue collar guy,” John Stevens of Newmarket said after Palin took a moment to autograph his program guide.
Stevens was among the crowd of snowmobile fans who were revved up when Palin visited the New Hampshire Snowmobile Association’s annual Grass Drags and Water Crossing competition at the Brookvale Farm. In his first stop in New Hampshire since his wife, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, became the Republican vice presidential nominee, Todd Palin spent yesterday morning chatting with racers, checking out the newest sleds and watching snowmobilers race across grass and water.
The event was Palin’s only stop in New Hampshire before heading off to campaign in Maine later in the day.
Palin’s visit set the stage for his wife, who is expected to make her first campaign swing in New Hampshire next Wednesday.
A champion snowmobile racer in Alaska, Palin, 44, was comfortable with this racing crowd in his blue jeans and black Tesoro Iron Dog jacket. Before the races began, Palin briefly address the crowd and urged support for his wife and Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain.
He said he and his wife have toured the country, listening to the concerns and hopes of Americans.
“One thing is for sure,” Palin said, “voters across America from here in New Hampshire all the way to Alaska are looking for change in how business is done in Washington, and I can say I can’t blame them.”
Palin kept his remarks short because his visit was hardly about talking politics. He was more interested in hanging out with snowmobilers and learning about their cool machines.
Scott Allaire showed Palin the new Arctic Cat line up. Palin told Allaire what he liked and didn’t like about the machine he rode last year in Alaska’s Iron Dog, the world’s longest snowmobile race.
Palin was joined yesterday by his Alaskan buddy Martin Buser, a four-time champion of the Iditarod dog sled race, along with New Hampshire Sen. John E. Sununu.
He took no questions from reporters who trailed behind him every step of the way, even as he grabbed his sausage grinder from the Weare Winter Wanderers' concession stand.
Palin didn’t respond when asked for his reaction to a legislative investigator’s report released Friday that found his wife violated Alaska’s state ethics laws and abused her power as governor by trying to have her ex-bother-in-law fired as a state trooper. Gov. Palin has denied any wrongdoing.
There was no talk of the Troopergate scandal yesterday. Snowmobile fans cared more about the fact that Palin seemed like a “down to earth guy. They said they were glad to see someone campaigning who could relate to their way of life and the sport they love.
“I don’t think he would have been campaigning here if he wasn’t an enthusiast. He’s an outdoors’ guy,” said Allaire, 36, of Essex, Vt., who works as a district sales manager for Arctic Cat.
Palin picked a good event to hit as the crowd seemed largely Republican, though some in the crowd didn't know who he was. "Todd who?" was the response from a few spectators when asked for their reaction to his visit.
While there were some Democrats sprinkled in here and there, even they were leaning toward the Republican ticket this year.
Loyal Democrat Elaine Shuler, 60, of East Kingston, said she’ll be voting Republican this year for the first time.
Shuler said she was excited to meet Palin at the snowmobile drags, a sport she knew nothing about until she researched it online and saw it firsthand yesterday.
Carroll Higgins, 64, of Rochester, had his New England Patriots’ hat signed by Palin. He’s a registered Democrat, but this year he’s likely to vote for McCain.
Higgins, who has no health insurance and recently retired after losing his job at a company that makes car parts, said he just doesn’t trust Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama.
McCain’s decision to add Sarah Palin to the Republican ticket was a smart move, he said.
“She brought a breath of fresh air to the campaign,” Higgins said during his first visit to the grass drags.
Tim Leonard, 46, of Newmarket, is a registered Independent and is leaning toward McCain.
“I’m an avid snowmobiler like (Palin) and I can relate to him. He’s the type of guy that if you had a question you could ask him on a blue collar level and not get any BS,” Leonard said.