Riding onto the scene on the back of a Harley-Davidson, Sarah Palin made a dramatic entrance Sunday at a much-anticipated appearance with the Rolling Thunder bike rally in Arlington, Virginia, an early stop on her recently-launched national bus tour.
The annual motorcycle ride, part of a two-day effort by the Rolling Thunder nonprofit organization, means to draw attention to American troops who have gone missing in combat and remain unaccounted for. Hundreds of participants ride in support of the cause yearly.
Palin did not give a speech during her appearance, but said, when asked about the significance of the event, that it was important to honor men and women in uniform.
When asked whether or not she was planning to jump into the race, Palin said, “I don’t know yet.”
She and her family spent about 20 minutes shaking hands and taking photos with people in the crowd.
The former governor’s participation received mix reviews from Rolling Thunder organizers and participants, according to the Washington Post.
“It intimidates our people if we’re pro or con any particular candidate,” said Wayne Kirkpatrick, chairman of the board of an Illinois chapter of Rolling Thunder. “And until national says there’s a candidate we’re and supporting them, we don’t want to feel because the president of this chapter is pro-tea party, ‘Gee, I have to be our else I better get out of this organization.”
“Don’t come here and try to make a political point out of it,” said Joe Clark of Pennsylvania. “If she’s just here backing the cause of the entire run, that’s fine. If she’s just trying to get votes, she should just stay out of it.”
Mark Posey of Indiana agreed: “I think she has no reason the be involved in this,” he said. “If she’s launching her campaign to run for president, I don’t think this is the place to start.”
“I don’t think she has any business having anything to do with Rolling Thunder. It’s not a political statement, so to speak. It’s not a Republican or a Democrat thing,” said Denise Throckmorton, who lives outside of Pittsburgh.