"She is strikingly beautiful and charming," said Judy Lloyd, who is active in the Republican Party in both Contra Costa County, where she lives, and in Alameda County, where her office, Altamont Solutions Inc., is located.
"She is a striking individual to me from the questions she asked and how much time she spent with us," said Lloyd. "She seemed happy to learn about us, thanked us for our support, and made sure we had a chance to meet the others - Meg Whitman of eBay and Jon Huntsman, the governor of Utah."
Lloyd's son Michael, 11, a student at Valley Christian who plays CYO basketball for St. Isidore and All-Star Little League, was also invited to greet Palin upon her arrival in the Bay Area.
"She asked him what grade he was in, how old he was, and what sports did he play," recalled Lloyd.
The mother and son were chosen for the greeting committee because Altamont Solutions offered its facilities to house the Republican's Victory '08 operations. Volunteers gather there to campaign for party candidates, assemble signs and make phone calls.
Lloyd ran for the 15th Assembly seat in the Republican primary, and ran her campaign out of the office. Michael would help with simple tasks in the beginning but one day was put to work making phone calls on her behalf.
"He did about 80 calls and was very persuasive," Lloyd said. "He's a people person."
Nathan Conrad, who runs the headquarters, picked the two of them for the airport welcoming committee, saying, "This kid's got a great attitude." Michael was the first child to act as a greeter for a major candidate.
Judy Lloyd has been involved in the past with presidential campaigns, including as a convention delegate from California although not this year. She has met Sen. John McCain on several occasions, most recently when he was campaigning in 2000.
"In my mind he's a maverick. I love his personality," she said. But she noted that McCain has met many, many people during his political career and, relatively speaking, not that many have had the chance to meet Palin.
The Lloyds left Danville at 7 a.m. to arrive at the airport by 8:30 a.m. although others among the eight or so greeters had to drive three-four hours for the privilege.
"They had a special place where we all had to congregate," Lloyd said. "There were several checks we went through, with nice Secret Service people."
She said Michael was impressed by this part as well.
"They put us all in line so we walked over to the airplane," she said. "There was quite a bit of anticipation."
The staff and press departed the airplane from the back door, then the front door opened and Gov. Sarah Palin led the way.
"She's a very down-to-earth individual who makes you feel very comfortable," Lloyd said. "I wasn't surprised because I have felt from public appearances that she's a warm, compassionate person. What a great first this was for a Republican."
And Michael's impression?
"He said to me afterward, 'She's a mom, just like you,'" said Lloyd.