The first step in rebuilding the Republic Party begins in Georgia, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told thousands of cheering supporters who stood for hours Monday waiting to hear her support Sen. Saxby Chambliss in a tightly contested Senate runoff.
"We need Saxby because we need checks and balances in Washington, and we will not have that if Saxby is not re-elected," Palin said. "With one party in control of the House and the Senate and the White House we need a conservative who will speak for themselves."
The former vice presidential candidate, an oft-mentioned presidential contender for 2012, is making four stops for Chambliss in an effort to save his seat and prevent Democrats from gaining a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate.
Several thousand supporters waited in the cold outside James Brown Arena in Augusta. Vendors sold bright pink "Palin 2012" T-shirts and "Palin for President: You Go Girl" buttons. She was greeted like a rock star with chants of "Sa-rah!"
"Georgia the eyes of America are upon you," the former vice presidential candidate said, according to the Associated Press. "We all have Georgia on our minds."
Chambliss fell short of crossing the 50 percent threshold in a three-way race against Democrat Jim Martin and a Libertarian candidate, Allen Buckley, in November.
Georgia is one of two undecided contests. A recount is under way in Minnesota in the tight race between Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken.
Palin cast the Georgia runoff as the first step in rehabilitating the Republican Party, wounded by losses in November, including the defeat of the McCain-Palin ticket. In addition to her Monday morning rally in Augusta, Palin is joining Chambliss at rallies in Savannah, Perry, and Atlanta.
"It takes rebuilding and I say let that begin here in Georgia tomorrow," Palin said.
She touted Chambliss' support for gun rights as well his opposition to abortion and tax hikes.
"We must send Saxby back to the United States Senate," she said.
Palin said she has a soft spot for Georgia where her eldest son, Track, trained at Fort Benning before deploying to Iraq.
"You took good care of my son," Palin said.
Palin highlighted her family life in much the same way that she did during the presidential campaign, painting the Georgia race as one with far-reaching consequences for the nation. "I am kind of selfishly looking at this to tell you the truth," she said. "It's not for just for Georgia. This is for folks in Alaska and in Hawaii and in Maine and in Washington state and Washington, D.C. I'm looking at this, you know, I'm a mom with five kids. This is for my kids and their future.”
The Alaska governor is not the only high-profile Republican who has stumped on behalf of Chambliss. The Georgia senator has also been aided by John McCain who campaigned in Atlanta on Nov. 13, Mike Huckabee who stumped in Duluth on Nov. 16, and Mitt Romney who hit the hustings in Savannah and Atlanta on Nov. 21.
Palin recounted McCain's visit today, saying, "Senator McCain came back here because he understands that losing an election does not mean we have to lose our way. He is ready to carry on the good fight in Washington but he needs Saxby to help him do it."
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