COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The banners, buttons and signs say McCain-Palin, but the crowds say something else.
"Sa-rah! Pa-lin!" came the chant at a Colorado Springs rally on Saturday moments before Republican nominee John McCain took the stage with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a woman who was virtually unknown to the nation just a week earlier. The day before, thousands screamed "Sa-rah! Sa-rah! Sa-rah!" at an amphitheater outside Detroit.
"Real change with a real woman," read one sign at a Wisconsin rally. "Hurricane Sarah leaves liberals spinning," cried another.
In the short time since McCain spirited the 44-year-old first-term governor out of Alaska and onto a national stage as his running mate, Palin has become an instant celebrity. And since her speech at the Republican National Convention, watched by more than 40 million Americans, she is emerging as the main attraction for many voters at their campaign appearances.
"She's the draw for a lot of people," said Marilyn Ryman, who came to see her at the Colorado rally inside an airport hangar. "The fact that she's someone new, not the old everything we've seen before."
McCain has sought to portray Palin as a bulldog who will help him "shake things up" on Capitol Hill.
Washington, he said Saturday, is "going to get to know her, but I can't guarantee you they'll love her."
"We do!" came a cry from the crowd.