From NBC/NJ's Matthew E. Berger
As of yesterday, Sarah Palin had delivered 14 campaign speeches since her well-received address more than two weeks ago at the Republican National Convention. And each time, she's packed in thousands of excited Republicans eager to see this new star of the GOP.
Video: Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin tells a Colorado rally that "every small business will have a friend in the White House" during a McCain/Palin administration.
But those waiting for hours to listen to her could hear the same thing -- or something close to it -- simply by pressing play on a TiVO recording of her acceptance speech. Or clicking on to a YouTube clip of that Sept. 3 address.
"In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers, and then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change." According to this reporter's count, she has delivered this line more than a dozen times.
"There's a time for politics and a time for leadership, a time to campaign and a time to put our country first," she says nearly every time as well.
She almost always ends with, "There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you."
And, of course, she says this: "I told the Congress, 'Thanks, but no thanks,' on that Bridge to Nowhere. If our state wanted to build a bridge, we were going to build it ourselves." In fact, because fact-checkers have said the statement is misleading, she gets more attention when she doesn't include that line than when she does.
Indeed, her stump speech has deviated very little from that convention speech in St. Paul. She continues to introduce herself to audiences primarily with biographical detail, stories from her time in Alaska, and praise for McCain -- rarely straying from the words on her Teleprompter.
And the crowd eats it up every time. Each Palin rally is akin to a rock concert: Most of the audience knows the words and could probably even sing along. So they get a heavy dose of the artist's greatest hits and little of the new stuff.
Palin did address the financial crisis on Monday -- saying the market system "needs some shakin' up and some fixin'" -- but she quickly reverted back to her standard remarks. She also surprised the press corps by enunciating the role she envisioned for herself in the McCain-Palin Administration, focusing on energy independence, government reform, and families facing disease and disabilities.
Often, her breaks from the stump speech have come at Obama's expense. Almost immediately after leaving the St. Paul Republican convention, Palin was adding a line to her script each day, chastising the Democratic ticket on tax increases or opposition to the Iraq surge. But she then pivoted -- sometimes awkwardly -- back to the remarks she had given before.
Perhaps her scripted nature was best on display Wednesday, when she joined McCain for her first town hall meeting in Grand Rapids, MI. After giving opening remarks with no new material, McCain tackled the first question on fighting terrorism. Palin quickly chimed in -- "can I add something?" she asked McCain -- and returned to lines she has used daily on McCain's leadership for the surge in Iraq. Answering audience questions, she mixed and matched lines directly from her normal remarks, speaking of her opposition to earmarks in Alaska, equality for women, and energy independence. When topics arose that Palin hadn't previously delved into, she stayed silent.