FORMER GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE (R), Arkansas: I’m excited that the Alaska folks are here with us. I know you people are very proud — and you ought to be — of Sarah Palin.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO, NewsHour Correspondent: Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and former presidential candidate, rallied the Alaska delegates who had breakfast with their Tennessee hotel neighbors.
Alaska’s 29 delegates have found themselves and their state in the glare of the national spotlight after John McCain named their governor as his running mate.
Delegate Dave Donley, who made the trip with his wife, Jamie, and three children thought it was about time for Alaska’s moment in the political sun.
DAVE DONLEY, Alaska Delegate: Well, there hasn’t even been a presidential candidate come to Alaska since Richard Nixon, so one of the things we stand to gain is just to educate America that we’re there, that we’re a state, that we’re part of the United States.
So much of the time we’re an afterthought. You see a map of the United States on a network news story, and Alaska’s not on the map sometimes. It’s really important to us, especially since the federal government owns over 80 percent of the land in Alaska.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Land and energy use are high on Alaskans’ list of priorities, especially oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR. Palin advocates drilling there, and alternate delegate Nathan Elmore agrees.
NATHAN ELMORE, Alternate Delegate, Alaska: Opening ANWR is something that by far the majority of Alaskans are for, because we understand that it’s a resource that we have that is not being utilized and can be utilized efficiently. We’ve got a history of doing that in Alaska. And I think she’s going to really put a spotlight on that.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Delegate Kim Skipper lives near Anchorage and said Palin’s conservative credentials are important, but, most of all, she’s someone people can relate to.
KIM SKIPPER, Alaska Delegate: She’s, you know, a normal, hardworking person who, you know, like all Americans, go from the ground up, was a mom, PTA, city council, mayor, a governor, ran for lieutenant governor, then became governor, and now, you know, on the ticket. I mean, the American dream — she’s the epitome of the American dream.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Delegate Bill Noll, a Vietnam veteran and former mayor of Seward, Alaska, recalled a recent encounter. He said Palin is unpretentious, friendly, and formidable.
BILL NOLL, Alaska Delegate: So I said, “Hello, Governor Palin.” And she said, “Hi, Bill. Hey, this is Trig. This is the brand-new baby.” Very, very friendly.
She is enjoying an 80 percent popularity rate in Alaska, which is astounding. They say it’s the most — she’s the most popular elected official in America. And I think, in the next few weeks, America is going to find out why she’s so popular. She’s the genuine article.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Alaska’s delegates head to the convention floor unified behind Palin. She addresses the convention tonight and will accept the nomination tomorrow.