Media blocked from Palin signing at Fort Bragg

/ Source: The Associated Press

The U.S. Army plans to prevent media from covering Sarah Palin's appearance at Fort Bragg, fearing the event will turn into political grandstanding against President Barack Obama, officials said Thursday.

Fort Bragg spokesman Tom McCollum told The Associated Press that the military post's garrison commander and other Army officials had decided to keep media away from Palin's book signing, which will not include a speech. He said the Army did not want the Monday event to become a platform to express political opinions "directed against the commander in chief."

"The main reason is to stop this from turning into a political platform," he said. "There are Army regulations that basically prohibit military reservations from becoming political platforms by politicians."

He said only one politician can use that platform, "and that person does it as our commander in chief."

Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, has already agreed not to give a speech at Fort Bragg, McCollum said. Officials said Palin will only sign her books at the event and will not stop to pose for photographs or personalize the books.

But McCollum worried that Palin's supporters might use the media to express political opinions from the sprawling military installation that serves as a base for some 35,000 soldiers.

"This will stop someone from grandstanding," he said. Other members of the public would be permitted to attend the event.

Palin's spokeswoman didn't immediately return an e-mail message seeking comment and a spokeswoman for Palin's publisher, HarperCollins, did not immediately return a call.

Palin began her promotional tour this week for a new memoir, "Going Rogue," with plans to travel through several states that were key to the 2008 election, including North Carolina. She made several stops in the state in 2008 while campaigning on the ticket of GOP presidential nominee John McCain.

McCollum said it's not clear if military officials consider Palin a politician but noted that she has been critical of Obama while promoting the book. She said in an interview with ABC News that Obama should provide more troops to Afghanistan.

"It frustrates me and frightens me — and many Americans — that President Obama is dithering around with the decision in Afghanistan," she said.

Palin doesn't appear to be using her book-signing events to explicitly promote her politics. She spoke briefly to supporters outside an event in Michigan on Wednesday, saying it was great to be there and not mentioning Obama.

At least one person in the crowd yelled: "Palin power. 2012, yes."