ANCHORAGE, Alaska – An event featuring former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and conservative commentator Glenn Beck on Saturday night brought out two very different crowds.
Thousands of fans who paid between $73.75 and $225 for tickets were gathering inside the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center to see Beck introduced by Palin, the 2008 vice presidential nominee and a potential 2012 presidential candidate. The two are tea party favorites.
Outside the downtown center, about 60 protesters waved signs and denounced Palin and Beck as intolerant fearmongers spreading divisiveness across the country.
"We feel that they are inciting racism in what they do and what they say and how they go about it," said Lynette Moreno-Hinz, an Alaska Native who helped organize the protest.
Holding a sign that said "Freedom isn't just for zealots," Brian MacMillan of Anchorage wondered where all the passion from the right was during George W. Bush's presidency, when the U.S. economy began its downward slide.
MacMillan also urged Palin and Beck supporters to ease up on President Barack Obama.
"Give the man in charge his due," he said. "He's doing the best he can."
Beck, a popular Fox News Channel personality, will donate his speaking fee from the event, and Palin is not being paid for her appearance, according to Christopher Balfe, president of Beck's media company. The amount of the fee is not being disclosed, and will go to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides scholarships and services to families of military members.
The event originally featured only Beck, according to Christopher Cox of Northern Stage Co. in Anchorage. Only later did Cox think of adding Palin and she agreed to participate.
Earlier this week, Palin promoted the event on her Facebook page, saying Beck could be counted on to make for an interesting and inspiring night.
"I can think of no better way to commemorate 9/11 than to gather with patriots who will 'never forget,'" Palin wrote.
The date of the event is a coincidence, Cox said. He didn't know what Beck planned to talk about during the show.
Despite the steep price for admission, all but 700 of 4,500 tickets have been sold, said Therin Ferrin, with a private contractor that operates the city's convention centers.
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