EAGLE, Colorado "-It was all handshakes, half-hugs, smiles and short stories at the Eagle Diner Tuesday morning as Todd "First Dude" Palin made his way around the tables of supporters in Eagle, Colorado.
From the outset, it was clear there wouldn't be much substance, or as Tom Kise, regional communications director for the McCain campaign, told the press, "Just color, just color."
Palin made his way through the back entrance of the diner shortly after 9:30 a.m., flanked by security detail and communications staff from the campaign. One of his first stops was a table near a window, where he spoke with Angela Kamby of Edwards, and her daughter, Charlie, who sported matching McCain-Palin shirts and buttons.
"We have family in Grand Junction, so we drove out there yesterday to go see Sarah Palin, and on the way there we got an e-mail saying Todd Palin would be here, and we were like, 'OK!'" Kamby said. "It was an educational experience. She's missed two days of school, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it's especially nice when you can take your 13-year-old."
Having the chance to shake Todd Palin's hand was enough by itself, she said.
"I'm so excited now I can't think, but when he came over, basically I had no idea what to say " I got a little nervous, like 'uh ... uh,'" Kamby said, with a laugh. "I should have rehearsed something. I'm just glad he could come to our town."
Back in the corner of the diner, Shirley White proudly displayed an autographed photo as she sat with three friends, recounting their experience.
"We got here around 9, even though I had just gotten back from Texas last night. My sister called me from Denver this morning, so I got dressed and came out," she said. "I also had a lot of friends call and say he was going to be here, so I couldn't miss it."
The diner was still buzzing after Palin departed, as the Lynyrd Skynyrd staple, "Sweet Home Alabama" blasted through the speakers.
One of the final people Palin spoke with at the diner was Bob Dorf, who said Palin inquired about his arm, which rested in a sling.
"I told him I injured it playing hockey, and the second time he came by, I told him I used to snowmobile back in the 60s," he said. "He said the machines they've got nowadays are much, much faster, but he said what his father told him was that once he was big enough to start it by himself, he could ride it. So he'd get his friends together, and they'd all pull on the rope, start it up, and then he was big enough to ride it."
After making the rounds in the diner, Palin headed over to the Eagle County Republican headquarters across the road.
He stayed just long enough to pose for a few pictures, sign a few more autographs - including the coat sleeve of at least one supporter " and had his entourage amiably dismiss anyone with more than a quick and friendly exchange.
So it was with great stealth that Asma Hasan, author and sister of state House candidate Ali Hasan, managed to squeeze in two questions.
Palin was asked what platform or issues he would pursue in a McCain-Palin administration, and what he thought of "negative media coverage" of Gov. Palin.
He said as "First Dude," his point of emphasis would be to expand vocational training for students who do not attend college, and that he doesn't pay attention to negative reports, but focuses on positive support like that seen at the rally today.
As he finished his last brief response, a communications director tapped him on the shoulder and escorted him back to the caravan of black SUVs.
With one last turn to the crowd of about 100 supporters, he announced, "We appreciate all your hard work. We've got two weeks to go, and we can do it!"
Nathan Rodriguez can be reached at (970)748-2982 or firstname.lastname@example.org