In an Apartment Near U-Va.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., Sept. 3 -- Bridget Brophy sprawled on the floor of her spartan off-campus apartment in front of her 13-inch television, excited and curious as Palin took the stage.

"All right, girl, let's see what you've got," said Brophy, a junior at the University of Virginia.

Brophy played hostess to four members of the Network of Enlightened Women, a conservative women's book club at the college. All were eager to hear from Palin after nearly a week of news reports that had shaped their first impressions.

They sat silently through much of the speech, as Palin praised John McCain and filled out her story.

The camera zoomed in on two of Palin's daughters, and Kathleen Bracken, a junior, let out an "Ooh."

"They are beautiful," Brophy said. "How young is the youngest daughter?"

"Seven, I think," someone answered. They checked it on Wikipedia.

"She's probably so bored right now," Bracken said. "Look at her."

They laughed.

When Palin said her parents taught her that "this is America and every woman can walk through every door of opportunity," Brophy said: "Word. Yes. Very true."

Palin promised she and McCain would install more pipelines to deal with the country's energy problems. "Good," Brophy said.

Palin's political and personal story left them with much to like.

Lauren Brown, a third-year law student, said: "The ethics reform bill was one of her first goals. That impressed me."

"I kind of liked her better because she was supportive of her daughter," said junior Melissa Barron, as she chomped on double-chocolate chip cookies. "She has a really strong family."

"I feel like she's just made of something really strong," Brophy said.

-- Krissah Williams Thompson

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