Politics & Government

Palin sets trip to Philadelphia next week to meet Obama

Gov. Sarah Palin is going back out on the campaign trail, just a few weeks after returning to work from her two-month run for vice president.

Palin will be in Georgia on Monday to stump for Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who is in a tightly contested runoff election with Democrat Jim Martin. Palin is being described by campaign-watchers as the closer, being brought in to electrify the Republican base in a series of rallies the day before the election.

Palin spokesman Bill McAllister said she'll make the Georgia campaign swing on her way to Philadelphia to meet with her old political foe, president-elect Barack Obama.

Obama is meeting with governors from both parties to talk about the ailing economy. It's not confirmed how many governors will attend the event, which the National Governors Association helped to put together, or if Palin will personally speak to Obama, whom she accused during the campaign of "palling around with terrorists."

"I don't know if she has a one-on-one with (Obama)," McAllister said. "It may be, given that they were both involved in the national campaign."

McAllister said Palin will be in Philadelphia on Monday and Tuesday, and the state will pay for it. He said the Chambliss campaign will pay for Palin's side trip to Georgia.

Palin will have four rallies for Chambliss in Georgia on Monday, in Augusta, Savannah, Perry and suburban Atlanta. Asked how this benefits Alaska, McAllister compared it to a vacation day.

"Well, I don't know. It's a political event, so I'm reluctant to comment much on it. But she works pretty hard, so you could consider it a day off," McAllister said. "I don't know that it necessarily has to have a direct benefit for Alaska, although probably you could make some argument there's an indirect one."


The Georgia election is closely watched nationally. It is one of two undecided races that will determine whether the Democrats have a 60-seat majority in the U.S. Senate that could allow them to block Republican filibusters.

Palin's former running mate, John McCain, campaigned for Chambliss, as have former governors and presidential aspirants Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani. Democrats Bill Clinton and Al Gore have campaigned for Martin.

Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, campaigning for Martin on Tuesday, told The Associated Press that Palin's visit is a sign of the race's competitiveness. "Saxby Chambliss is calling out the cavalry because he needs to motivate the base," she said.

McAllister said he didn't know if any Palin family members would be going. Her husband, Todd, and children were often prominent on the campaign trail as she campaigned for vice president. The governor also sometimes brings her children with her when she travels on state business, at state expense.

This is Palin's second trip out of state since coming back to work at the governor's office on Nov. 7. Her trip to Miami for the Republican Governors Association in the second week of November took about three days, the governor's office said.

Visits to the Republican Governors Association are nothing new for Alaska governors. But Palin's trip to Miami was different, reflecting her celebrity status. She dominated media attention at the conference and did an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "Poolside paparazzi" photos were even taken of Palin and circulated on the Internet.

Palin's Georgia visit also is causing a stir. Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote, "Ohmigoodness ... the goddess descends." On Tuesday, the Chambliss campaign featured Palin's photo at the top of its Web site and urged people to RSVP to the rallies.

"She has a lot of support, a lot of fans down here. A lot of people are very excited she's coming," said Chambliss spokeswoman Michelle Grasso. "I think it's absolutely the way you want to end a runoff."

The McCain-Palin ticket won Georgia by about 200,000 votes, capturing 52 percent of the vote.