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Todd Palin visits speedway
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Todd Palin (center), husband of vice presidential hopeful and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, tours the pits at Martinsville Speedway before Sunday’s race. With him are Campbell County Sheriff Terry Gaddy (left) and U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode Jr., R-Rocky Mount.
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Monday, October 20, 2008

By KIM BARTO - Bulletin Staff Writer

The husband of Republican vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin touched on energy policy and his role in Alaska's government during a visit Sunday to the Martinsville Speedway.

Todd Palin, the "first dude" of Alaska, met with drivers and fans Sunday afternoon and served as an honorary race official for the Tums Quikpak 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. He was accompanied by former governor George Allen and 5th District U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode on a "Victory 2008" bus tour.

"I think energy is really big right now," Palin said during a brief session with journalists Sunday. The right direction for the country's energy needs "is all of the above, with drilling in America and coal and nuclear," he said.

"With Sarah (Palin)'s knowledge of all of the resources in Alaska, we need to tap into that and spread it to the lower 48 (states)," he added.

Palin said he does not get too involved in government responsibilities in Alaska. He said work obligations, commercial fishing and training for the Iron Dog snowmobile race keep him busy, "so there's not much of a role there (in governing), besides the issues I've tackled myself."�

These include vocational training and "maintaining upkeep of the governor's mansion," he said.

"As first spouse in Alaska, I've taken on vocational training because I'm a product of on-the-job training, so I've been pushing that," Palin said.

As for his role if his wife becomes vice president, "We'll get past Nov. 4 and see what's out there, but my number one priority is taking care of the family," he said.

"Our family's very adaptable, and I'm very comfortable in that role," he added.

Palin said the couple's five children were with Gov. Palin on Sunday, and he would catch up with them Sunday night. School comes before the campaign for the younger Palins, he said.

"The deal with the kids is, you get caught up with your schoolwork, then you go out on the trail a little bit, then you go back and get caught up on your schoolwork again," he said. "It's been working out real well."�

The final two weeks of the campaign are "going to be very busy," Palin said, but he seemed optimistic about the election.

"I think more and more Americans are starting to look at everybody's record," he added.

Because it is a presidential election year, both campaigns were invited to Sunday's race, but "the McCain/Palin camp was the only one that accepted," said Speedway President Clay Campbell.

Campbell added that Palin's visit was "exciting for everyone here."�

Palin was stopped frequently by supporters who wanted to shake his hand and pose for pictures as he toured the speedway before the race. After seeing the pit and garage areas, he said, "I think it's just unbelievable, the effort that it takes to get an event like this going."�

Palin said he had never been to a NASCAR race in person, but he said he has "nothing but respect for these racers and their crews."�

Though he had watched televised races before, Palin said he did not have a favorite NASCAR driver.

"I'm going to be pulling for all the drivers today, but (Dale Earnhardt) Junior really stands out," he said.

"I participate in a 2,000-mile race across Alaska (the Iron Dog), so it's just a thrill for us to be down here," he said. "I'll leave my telephone number for any of the NASCAR racers who want to come up and ride with us."�

Goode, R-Rocky Mount, said he did not think Palin had any problems relating to the people of Martinsville.

"I've been very impressed with the way he meets people, and I think it's a real asset to have him here at Martinsville," Goode said. "Mainly, (people) are glad to see him and say we need McCain and Palin to win."�

Allen also emphasized the need for energy independence during the Speedway tour.

"We need to get more American energy ... rather than having to get jerked around by hostile dictators and oil cartels," Allen said.

"It's going to mean a lot for jobs, using American coal, American nuclear, American oil and natural gas," he added.

Allen said he was along on the tour "just helping out" as one of the campaign advisors. He added that he is not returning to politics at this time.

"I haven't decided one way or the other," he said.

The "Victory 2008" tour continues today with a breakfast stop at Crossroads Mall in Roanoke. From there, rallies and speeches are scheduled Virginia Tech, Wytheville, Abingdon and Gate City. There will be a lunch stop Tuesday in Richlands.


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