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Thanks To Palin, Alaskans Sense New Bond With The "Lower 48"

(CBS)
From CBS News' Scott Conroy:

(FAIRBANKS, Alaska) Everything is a bit different in Alaska. That became evident to me even before Sarah Palin's plane touched down in Fairbanks last night. As we came in for a landing, I was surprised to see that even though it was still early September, the leaves on the trees that dot the region had already turned a bright shade of yellow.

It doesn't take long to realize that people here share a real pride in what makes their state unique. But I was surprised to discover the extent to which Alaskans have viewed their separation from the Lower 48 as a hindrance to a sense of connectivity with the rest of the country.

But Palin's candidacy for the vice presidency may already be changing that. Cathy Andreaffan of Fairbanks told me, "We have always felt like we weren't part of the United States, and I think that we all feel so close to the United States [now]."

John Theis, also from Fairbanks, noted the personal offense Alaskans take to the fact that on most maps of the country, their state is placed not where it actually lies geographically, but rather somewhere southwest of Texas.

"People are starting to realize that Alaska is part of the United States," Theis said.

For more on these Fairbanks residents' reactions to what Palin's candidacy means to Alaska, watch the video below.

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    Scott Conroy is a National Political Reporter for RealClearPolitics and a contributor for CBS News.