AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) _ Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin implored Georgia Republicans to back Sen. Saxby Chambliss in his hotly contested Senate runoff, telling a cheering crowd today that the first step in rebuilding the GOP begins with the Southern state.
The former vice presidential candidate made her first campaign appearance since the Republican ticket of John McCain and Palin lost on Nov. 4. Palin's four stops for Chambliss underscored not only the stakes for the GOP in the Senate race but Palin's popularity within the party. She has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2012, a fact not lost on some Georgia voters.
Several thousand supporters waited in the cold to file into the James Brown Arena in Augusta. Vendors sold bright pink ``Palin 2012'' T-shirts and "Palin for President: You Go Girl'' buttons. She was greeted like a rock star with chants of "Sa-rah!''
Chambliss is locked in a runoff with Democrat Jim Martin after neither crossed the 50 percent threshold in the general election.
The race will help determine the balance of power in Washington where Democrats are just two votes shy of the 60 votes needed to prevent Republican filibusters. Georgia is one of two undecided contests. A recount is under way in Minnesota in the tight race between Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken.