Saturday, October 11, 2008

Todd Palin revs up crowd in Fremont

Todd Palin made a guest appearance today at the annual New Hampshire Snowmobile Grass Drags and Water Crossing competition in Fremont.
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.


Webmaster said...

Please what a joke! There is NO 'troopergate scandal'.

AS governor she kicked a bad trooper's ass and we are glad she did because we hate bad cops.

Now Mike Wooten is one of her supporters!

So this was just an attempt by an Obama supporter to try to smear her.

It's a report and it's jaundiced.
I will vote for her just so I get to look at Todd for 4 years. Yum!!!!

Sled Dog Action Coalition said...

It's appalling that Palin and her hubby are cozy with Iditarod champ Martin Buser. Of course, they don't tell people that the Iditarod is terribly cruel to dogs.

Here's a short list of what happens to the dogs during the race: death, paralysis, frostbite of the penis and scrotum, bleeding ulcers, bloody diarrhea, lung damage, pneumonia, ruptured discs, viral diseases, broken bones, torn muscles and tendons, vomiting, hypothermia, sprains, fur loss, broken teeth, torn footpads and anemia.

At least 136 dogs have died in the Iditarod. There is no official count of dog deaths available for the race's early years. In "WinterDance: the Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod," a nonfiction book, Gary Paulsen describes witnessing an Iditarod musher brutally kicking a dog to death during the race. He wrote, "All the time he was kicking the dog. Not with the imprecision of anger, the kicks, not kicks to match his rage but aimed, clinical vicious kicks. Kicks meant to hurt deeply, to cause serious injury. Kicks meant to kill."

Causes of death have also included strangulation in towlines, internal hemorrhaging after being gouged by a sled, liver injury, heart failure, and pneumonia. "Sudden death" and "external myopathy," a fatal condition in which a dog's muscles and organs deteriorate during extreme or prolonged exercise, have also occurred. The 1976 Iditarod winner, Jerry Riley, was accused of striking his dog with a snow hook (a large, sharp and heavy metal claw). In 1996, one of Rick Swenson's dogs died while he mushed his team through waist-deep water and ice. The Iditarod Trail Committee banned both mushers from the race but later reinstated them. In many states these incidents would be considered animal cruelty. Swenson is now on the Iditarod Board of Directors.

In the 2001 Iditarod, a sick dog was sent to a prison to be cared for by inmates and received no veterinary care. He was chained up in the cold and died. Another dog died by suffocating on his own vomit.

No one knows how many dogs die in training or after the race each year.

On average, 53 percent of the dogs who start the race do not make it across the finish line. According to a report published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, of those who do cross, 81 percent have lung damage. A report published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine said that 61 percent of the dogs who finish the Iditarod have ulcers versus zero percent pre-race.

Tom Classen, retired Air Force colonel and Alaskan resident for over 40 years, tells us that the dogs are beaten into submission:

"They've had the hell beaten out of them." "You don't just whisper into their ears, ‘OK, stand there until I tell you to run like the devil.' They understand one thing: a beating. These dogs are beaten into submission the same way elephants are trained for a circus. The mushers will deny it. And you know what? They are all lying." -USA Today, March 3, 2000 in Jon Saraceno's column

Beatings and whippings are common. Jim Welch says in his book Speed Mushing Manual, "I heard one highly respected [sled dog] driver once state that "‘Alaskans like the kind of dog they can beat on.'" "Nagging a dog team is cruel and ineffective...A training device such as a whip is not cruel at all but is effective." "It is a common training device in use among dog mushers...A whip is a very humane training tool."

During the 2007 Iditarod, eyewitnesses reported that musher Ramy Brooks kicked, punched and beat his dogs with a ski pole and a chain. Brooks admitted to hitting his dogs with a wooden trail marker when they refused to run. The Iditarod Trail Committee suspended Brooks for two years, but only for the actions he admitted. By ignoring eyewitness accounts, the Iditarod encouraged animal abuse. When mushers know that eyewitness accounts will be disregarded, they are more likely to hurt their dogs and lie about it later.

Mushers believe in "culling" or killing unwanted dogs, including puppies. Many dogs who are permanently disabled in the Iditarod, or who are unwanted for any reason, are killed with a shot to the head, dragged or clubbed to death. "On-going cruelty is the law of many dog lots. Dogs are clubbed with baseball bats and if they don't pull are dragged to death in harnesses....." wrote Alaskan Mike Cranford in an article for Alaska's Bush Blade Newspaper (March, 2000).

Jon Saraceno wrote in his March 3, 2000 column in USA Today, "He [Colonel Tom Classen] confirmed dog beatings and far worse. Like starving dogs to maintain their most advantageous racing weight. Skinning them to make mittens. Or dragging them to their death."

The Iditarod, with its history of abuse, could not be legally held in many states, because doing so would violate animal cruelty laws.

Iditarod administrators promote the race as a commemoration of sled dogs saving the children of Nome by bringing diphtheria serum from Anchorage in 1925. However, the co-founder of the Iditarod, Dorothy Page, said the race was not established to honor the sled drivers and dogs who carried the serum. In fact, 600 miles of this serum delivery was done by train and the other half was done by dogs running in relays, with no dog running over 100 miles. This isn't anything like the Iditarod.

The race has led to the proliferation of horrific dog kennels in which the dogs are treated very cruelly. Many kennels have over 100 dogs and some have as many as 200. It is standard for the dogs to spend their entire lives outside tethered to metal chains that can be as short as four feet long. In 1997 the United States Department of Agriculture determined that the tethering of dogs was inhumane and not in the animals' best interests. The chaining of dogs as a primary means of enclosure is prohibited in all cases where federal law applies. A dog who is permanently tethered is forced to urinate and defecate where he sleeps, which conflicts with his natural instinct to eliminate away from his living area.

Iditarod dogs are prisoners of abuse.

Margery Glickman
Sled Dog Action Coalition,