BANGOR, Maine — Her visit to Bangor had been announced for about 24 hours, and already, Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin needed a bigger venue.
Responding to a huge demand for tickets, the Maine Republican Party announced Tuesday that it was moving Palin’s rally from the maintenance hangar at Bangor International Airport to the larger Hangar 11.
“We want to make sure that everyone who wishes to attend the rally and see Gov. Palin has the opportunity to do so,” Maine GOP Chairman Mark Ellis said.
Tickets are available at any of the five Republican headquarters located in Bangor, Caribou, Machias, Lewiston and Portland, or by contacting the Maine Republican Party at 622-6247. Tickets also may be printed online at http://maine.johnmccain.com.
It wasn’t clear Tuesday how many tickets were left or how many had been given away so far.
“I’m told thousands, but I don’t have specific numbers,” Ellis said. “There is certainly a lot of interest.”
The “Road to Victory” rally is expected to begin at 9 a.m. inside Hangar 11, which can be accessed from the main entrance to BIA. Palin, Sen. John McCain’s running mate, will address the crowd shortly thereafter.
Ticket holders will be allowed into the hangar beginning at 8 a.m., and Ellis offered a strong warning: “I cannot stress this enough, please give yourself plenty of time and arrive early,” he said.
While Sen. Barack Obama has held at least a four-point advantage over McCain in recent state polls, the Republicans believe the state is in play. Maine is one of only two states that splits its electoral votes by congressional district. The 2nd Congressional District, which includes all of eastern and northern Maine, is more rural, more conservative and likely to be friendlier to Palin than perhaps southern Maine.
“A lot has been said that our strategy is winning the 2nd District, but we believe that if we can win the 2nd District big enough, we’ll win the state,” Ellis said.
There was no announcement Tuesday about who might introduce Gov. Palin in Bangor, but Ellis did say that singer Lee Greenwood of “Proud to be an American” fame currently is traveling with the governor and will make the trip to Maine.
Ellis did not have an advance copy of Palin’s remarks for the rally, but said, “I think she’ll have to play up her standing as an outsider, someone who is not entrenched in the network in government.”
Until recently, Palin’s stump speech has featured pointed attacks on Obama and the Illinois senator’s connection to William Ayers, former member of the radical, left-wing Weather Underground. She has toned down her rhetoric lately.
At a rally in Scranton, Pa., on Tuesday, Palin stuck mostly to economic talking points. She touted McCain’s recent mortgage proposal as a hand up, not a hand out, and criticized Obama and running mate Joe Biden as tax-and-spenders.
While Palin spends part of Thursday in Bangor, Obama’s campaign announced on Tuesday the senator would host an event in nearby New Hampshire the same day.