Sarah and Bristol Palin receive a lukewarm welcome at Mall of America

No throngs to pal with the Palins.

No throngs to pal with the Palins.

The rules set up by Mall of America officials for Sarah and Bristol Palin's book signing yesterday seemed to have been written in anticipation of an army of fans.

"'Camping out' is not allowed," the rules read. "Beginning at 5 a.m., guests will be allowed to line up."

But there was no teeming crowd of rabid Palinites at 5 a.m. And less than a half hour into the appearance of Bristol, Sarah, and Todd Palin, the crowd had dwindled to a trickle of latecomers.

[jump] Bristol Palin was launching the promotional tour for her new memoir, Not Afraid of Life. It details how, as a teenager, she got drunk, lost her virginity to Levi Johnston in a tent, and became a teen mother. And she chronicles the rise of her Mama Grizzly.

Perhaps sensing that MOA's rotunda would not necessarily be mobbed by rabid Dancing with the Stars fans, Sarah Palin decided to tag along as well, revisiting the site where she was nearly tomatoed and signed a copy of our Michele Bachmann cover story "Going Crazy." 

Maybe she thought she had some star power. And Wednesday's rules stipulated that no one got Sarah Palin's autograph unless they bought Bristol's book. 

Todd and Sarah Palin

Todd and Sarah Palin

Savvy. But by the time the Palins took the stage, one estimate put the number of autograph seekers at about 300 people, all lined up to be wanded and watched over by a phalanx of Bloominton cops before getting to the Palins' table.

That compares to roughly 1,000 who showed for Sarah Palin's "Going Rogue" tour a few years ago -- a figure roughly half the size hyped by promoters. And there were no tomatoes this time, nor a glittering.

At the end of the event, the MOA estimated that about 700 books had been signed. Perhaps the Palins simply sign books at a lightning pace, but the rotunda was deserted at least a half hour early. 

Maybe the hearts of local conservatives are with our own homegrown crazy clown?