Sunday, February 6, 2011
Andrew Coffin at Big Government wrote an inspiring account of Governor Palin's visit to the Ronald Reagan Ranch prior to her speaking at his centennial birthday celebration Friday night. He included great pictures of her and her family riding horses, taking in the view, and simply walking in the 40th president's footsteps.
Our day with Governor Palin actually started much earlier than her arrival at the Reagan Ranch Center. We first greeted Governor Palin when she arrived at the Reagan Ranch itself, family in tow. Joined by Bristol, Willow, Trig, and grandson Tripp, the Governor visited Ronald Reagan’s favorite retreat for the sole purpose of walking in his footsteps, to better understand what motivated and inspired this great man. We had to ask her to let us chronicle the event in photos and video, to which she reluctantly agreed.
Governor Palin and her family spent hours at the Ranch on Friday. She met with Young America’s Foundation president Ron Robinson and Vice President Kate Obenshain. She heard personal accounts of the President’s life at Rancho del Cielo—the Ranch in the heavens—from trusted Reagan friend and confident Dennis LeBlanc and former Secret Service agent John Barletta. After touring the grounds, Governor Palin even mounted a horse—confident in the saddle—and road the very same trails the President loved with Agent Barletta. She had asked if it would be possible to ride, wanting to experience the Ranch as Ronald Reagan did.
Though it was clear the Governor enjoyed the experience, it was also clear that this was not just for her—this was an opportunity for her to share the life of her hero with her family. It was a way for her to impart her values, those she shares with Ronald Reagan, with Bristol, Willow, Trig, and Tripp, just as our organization does for hundreds of young people every year as they visit and are inspired by their opportunity to “meet” Ronald Reagan at his Ranch.
There was a moment late in the day that really sticks with me. It had been a full day–there was so much for us to share and the Governor to take in. As the tour wound down, we stopped at one of the highest points on the Ranch, where a spectacular view opens up to the Santa Ynez Valley. The day was crystal clear, and our small group could look out over the rolling hills of ranchland and wine country framed by the peaks of a distant mountain range. I shared with the Governor something the president told Barbara Walters in an interview at Rancho del Cielo in 1981. Why does this remote property mean so much to you, Walters wondered? The president’s answer was simple:
I suppose it’s the scriptural line, “I look to the hills from whence cometh my strength.” I understand it a little better when I’m up here.
We paused at this spot and Governor Palin walked a few feet away from the rest of the group, to take in more of this dramatic California Central Coast vista, and, I think, to reflect on the experiences she had at the Ranch that day.
Anyone who has visited Rancho del Cielo knows there is a remarkable simplicity to the property. It’s the ting [sic] that shocks most visitors now, as it did the world leaders who visited Reagan there. The president lived in a small, 1,800 square foot adobe with no central air or heat. He built much of the Ranch himself, including an impressive stretch of sturdy, telephone-pole fencing that surrounds the home site and pond. Everything about the Ranch reflects the great American, and, particularly, western ideals that Ronald Reagan cherished: hard work, responsibility, stewardship of the land, freedom, and opportunity.
It was clear on Friday that Governor Palin is a leader cut from the same cloth—it is these great western ideals, and the way they could be seen at the Ranch in small but telling details, that she viscerally connected with. And I have to admit, it was fun to see up close how genuine that connection was.
Governor Palin went out of the way in her speech to not lay claim to the mantle of Ronald Reagan. “Many people today are looking for the next Reagan. But he was one of a kind, and we won’t see his like again,” she said later in her speech, but it’s his principles and values to which we must lay claim.
Read Coffin's full article here. He went on to debunk The New York Times false claims, which I wrote about yesterday, that Governor Palin didn't mingle with supporters and that she left immediately after her speech. Click here to see pictures of Governor Palin at the ranch. Both the full article and the pictures are definitely worth a look.