Sarah Palin brought her book-signing tour to North Carolina's Fort Bragg on Monday and hundreds greeted the former Republican vice presidential candidate in a campaign-like gathering.
Palin's appearance tested Department of Defense regulations, which prohibit politicians from using installations as a platform. Palin didn't give a speech and individually thanked soldiers, and a base spokesman said she was not campaigning.
But the bus parked nearby encouraged donations to her political action committee and supporters made clear that she should run for president.
Army officials initially barred media from the event, fearing coverage would lead Palin's backers to lob negative comments at President Barack Obama. The military later relented and allowed media access.
Col. Billy Buckner, a spokesman for Fort Bragg, said the Army agreed to let Palin on post because she fell into a gray area.
"She's not a political figure per se, but she certainly carries a tremendous amount of interest and influence across the country," he said.
Palin's father, who greeted supporters as his daughter signed copies of the book, said in an interview that Obama's handling of the military was "scary."
"I see a decline in our might," Chuck Heath said. "People used to be afraid of us and respect us, (but) they're not afraid of us and don't respect us anymore."
The former Alaska governor began a nationwide tour last week to promote a new memoir, "Going Rogue." She also has a planned visit to Fort Hood, Texas, on Dec. 4 — just a month after 12 people were killed there in a shooting rampage.
Hundreds of Palin supporters arrived early at Fort Bragg. One woman spent nearly 24 hours in line.
G.R. Quinn, 58, a veteran who spent 20 years in the military, wore an "Impeach Obama" shirt. He blasted the president for closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, for the plan to hold a key Sept. 11 terrorism trial in New York and for Obama's handling of the military overseas.
"He's so wishy-washy about Afghanistan," Quinn said, adding he hopes more troops will be sent there.
While the supporters were primarily civilians, dozens of uniformed personnel also greeted Palin. They craned to snap photos and shook her hand as she left.
Chief Warrant Officer Two Jeff Thompson, 36, praised Palin for stopping by.
"She cares about the troops," Thompson said. The soldier, who has had two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, said he supported the GOP ticket in 2008 but he considers Obama his boss.
"I support his decisions," Thompson said.