Opinion: Sarah Palin meets a special friend in a Pennsylvania orchard


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NEW PARIS, Pa.—Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin arrived at the Boyer Orchards here Friday afternoon, entering a sweet-smelling wooden barn full of crates of apples. ‘This is gorgeous,’ Palin said, greeting workers.

The visit was designed to highlight small businesses and their special needs and how a John McCain administration would help them.

And the Republican vice presidential candidate did talk business and taxes with Matthew and Bruce Boyer, whose family has owned and worked this 300-acre orchard for 51 years now.

But it was after their business chat that Palin had some special moments with a special fan, Amber Brown. As Palin left the barn, an excited crowd outside was mid-verse singing ‘God Bless America,’ but roared at the sight of Palin.


Brown, who is 23 and from New Paris, held a poster that said: “I have Down’s syndrome and I’m voting for you. I’m a fighter too!”

Palin saw Brown, headed straight for her and they embraced. “I love that poster!’ said the mother of a Down syndrome baby (Click on Read more line below to see photo of Palin with her infant son, Trig).

‘You’re a fighter and you’re beautiful,” Palin told Brown. The pair posed for pictures and hugged again.

Palin then continued down the rope line, paying special attention to the babies and children, at one point crouching down beside four little girls.

Once Palin finished, she returned to Brown and embraced her again. Palin’s husband, Todd, also came by and chatted with Brown and her family.

This is not an unusual encounter for the 44-year-old mother of five, who gets a little emotional at such moments, as a recent MSNBC video unexpectedly captured.

Before meeting Brown, Palin talked with the Boyers, the small businessmen who told her of skyrocketing costs and....

...difficulties during picking times finding legal migrant workers, who just this week finished harvesting some 5,000 bushels of apples a day.


“It’s increasingly difficult to find legal help,” Matthew Boyer said. “People don’t understand this immigration issue. You know we need workers. We can’t get a local person to help us. It’s hard work.”

Bruce Boyer added, “Like it or not, we need migrant help.”

Matthew Boyer added that insuring that commercial agriculture has a supply of legal migrant workers assures that the food America consumes continues to be grown in the United States, which is vital for the nation’s security.

Boyer also said that he knows some of his migrant workers, and considers them “brothers,” and that people don’t understand that they are not seeking citizenship; rather, they want to work, earn some money and return to their family.

Palin discussed taxes, saying she wants to reduce the orchard’s taxes. “That allows you to grow and expand and provide more to your employees,’ she said. ‘That’s a piece.”

Boyer nodded and said healthcare cost increases have been devastating. “Every year, it goes up 15, 20%,” he said. “We can’t handle that. It’s scary.”

Before Palin responded, Boyer returned to immigration, noting there is a limited time period to get the apples picked.


Palin replied, “That’s like our commercial fishing business.... Because if we can’t pick our fish out of the net, while the [inaudible] harvest is right there, then we’ve lost the season.”

Boyer presented Palin with a honey crisp apple, saying it is their specialty. Boyer told Palin he had been studying about her on the Web.

“Your ... counterpart really worries me with some of his ideas,’ Boyer said. ‘The taxes on small business.’ Boyer held his arm up to his chest and said, “We’re up to here right now.”

Palin agreed. “You don’t need to be working for your government; government needs to work for you.”

--Seema Mehta

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