The smell of moose burgers greeted late visitors to a tailgate that hosted Todd Palin, husband of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, before Saturday's Homecoming game.
Austin Manelick (junior-communication arts and sciences), of Palmer, Alaska, brought the moose meat for the tailgate and showed people at the event pictures of himself with the dead animal.
"I brought the moose meat because I knew they needed rocket fuel," said Manelick, who played hockey with Track Palin, the vice presidential candidate's son, and had Sarah Palin as his team's "hockey mom."
Todd Palin attended the tailgate with Penn State Students for John McCain and the College Republicans.
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Near the vice presidential candidate's husband, the "Straight Talk" RV displayed balloons, state candidates' names, and printed and homemade signs, a couple of which read "Welcome Todd Palin."
Tailgaters in the crowd around Todd Palin often yelled words of support or started chants, including "McCain in '08, baby!" and "Todd, Todd, Todd."
Todd Palin, wearing a blue Penn State sweatshirt, signed autographs, shook hands and took pictures amid a semicircle of tailgaters, some holding their camera phones above the heads of those around them.
Fans exchanged brief words with him while Secret Service stood by his side.
Todd Palin said the time in the area was a great experience.
When asked about Penn State fans who suggest Joe Paterno for president, Todd Palin praised the coach.
"Well he's just a legend," he said, later adding, "They don't make warriors like that anymore."
Andrew Natalo, president of Penn State Students for John McCain, said Todd Palin arrived about half an hour early and at one point there were about 300 people crowding around the tailgate.
"He's here to watch the game," Natalo said.
Natalo said he spoke with Todd Palin about the volunteer work the local campaign has been doing.
"We've just shattered our goals every week for Centre County," Natalo said.
Andrew Ryan (freshman-geoscience), a member of the College Republicans, said he made about 230 campaign calls over the span of a few hours Saturday before arriving at the tailgate. In exchange for his efforts, College Republicans gave Ryan a ticket to the Homecoming game.
"This is like the most amazing day ever," he said.
Ryan, who wore a red shirt to the tailgate that read "Penn State Students for McCain/Palin" on the front and "Don't hope for change vote for it" on the back, said he shook Todd Palin's hand, took a picture and had a campaign sticker signed.
"I've never been up close to a real politician," he said of the vice presidential candidate's husband.
He said Todd Palin was friendly and "just a normal guy," and gave politics a face.
Nancy Mitchell, Class of 1973, was at the tailgate taking a picture of Todd Palin, who she said she was curious to meet.
"I'm very surprised he's as out here as he is," she said, later adding, "This is neat. I wish more candidates would do this."