Story last updated at 12/3/2008 - 2:01 pm
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was back on the stump today, this time campaigning for Sen. Saxby Chambliss in cities across Georgia and laying groundwork for her own possible presidential bid in 2012.
Palin, appearing before enthusiastic crowds in Augusta and Savannah, talked up Chambliss, who is in a key runoff for re-election against Democrat Jim Martin that could determine Republicans' power to stop legislation in the Senate.
"All of this depends on you tomorrow, Georgia," John McCain's former running mate told several thousand gathered at the James Brown Arena in Augusta. "The stakes are so high. America is depending on you."
In Savannah, after an introduction by Chambliss, Palin sounded a similar theme in a 12-minute long speech at the Civic Center before about 2,000. For 30 minutes afterwards, she signed autographs and shook hands.
"The eyes of America are on you, Georgia," Palin said, encouraging everyone to get out and vote Tuesday. "There needs to be some fixing done, and that's going to start with you tomorrow, Georgia."
During Palin's speech, she hit all the Republican talking points, including keeping the Democrats from having a filibuster-proof Senate majority, keeping taxes low, wanting a government that is pro-life, pro-small businesses and developing more energy resources and staying tough in the war on terror in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Palin also mentioned that her son, who is in the Army, is no stranger to Georgia. He attended bootcamp in Fort Benning and left out of Hunter Army Airfield when he was deployed to Iraq earlier this year.
Despite the hoopla, Georgia Democratic Party spokesman Martin Matheny downplayed Palin's impact on the race.
"In the end, this isn't about the future of the Republican party," Matheny said. "It's about everyday Georgians who are struggling to make ends meet after the past few years of Bush-Chambliss economic policies."
Martin also has benefited from star-power campaigners including Bill Clinton and Al Gore, among others, and he is appearing at an Atlanta rally with Georgia hip hop star Ludacris this afternoon. President-elect Obama recorded ads and robotic calls to voters but didn't interrupt his transition planning for a trip to Georgia.
Martin is portraying himself as the way to complete Obama's mandate.
For Palin's appearance, among those who braved the chill were Courtney Turner, 18, who is the Miss North Augusta Teen USA. This was her first year voting, she said, and she supports Palin as someone who had also competed in pageants.
"She's interested in the things I'm interested in, and I can relate to her," Turner said.
Kate Monahan, 9, a third-grader at St. Mary on the Hill Catholic School, came with her mother to support Palin.
While Kate won't be able to vote in four years, Palin may be thinking that far ahead. Many conservative Republicans have called for her to carry the party's standard in 2012 to try to prevent Obama's re-election.