Perhaps it was coincidence that the song "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was playing as Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin worked the crowd at the Irish Pub last night.

But her amorous fans were definitely ready to let the moose-hunting Alaska governor rule.

"I expect her to be president of the United States one day," said Suzanne Haney, the Republican leader for the 2nd Ward in South Philadelphia, who gave Palin a $2 bill for luck.

Palin appeared at the bar on 20th and Walnut streets last night to shake hands with her fans for about an hour before the first presidential debate. While the crowd inside was friendly, hundreds of people lined the street outside in protest with signs that read things like "Palin is Santorum With Lipstick."

Palin did not take questions from reporters nor did she talk policy. She posed for pictures and chatted with supporters, many of whom were from outside the city limits, and made an approximately minute-long statement.

"We have an opportunity to put government back on the side of the people and shake things up in D.C.," said Palin, who was garbed in a Phillies jersey, a white T-shirt and jeans with a leopard-print belt buckle.

A surprise pick by Sen. John McCain, Palin burst on the GOP scene to huge enthusiasm several weeks ago. The self-described "hockey mom" has served as governor of Alaska for just two years and previously was mayor of the small town of Wasilla.

But she has struggled with questions about her experience and foreign-policy credentials, and has been dogged by the "Troopergate" scandal over whether she tried to remove her ex-brother-in-law from his job on the state police force.

Still, supporters at the Irish Pub last night said they were excited about Palin.

Christine Olsen-Liney, 39, of King of Prussia, said she could relate to Palin because she has five kids, one with special needs. Palin recently gave birth to a son with Down syndrome.

"I think she can relate to the common mom," said Olsen-Liney, who has a 3-year-old son with a neurological disorder that prevents him from speaking. "I like the fact that [she's] somebody who recognizes that not enough is done for special-needs children."

Palin, who arrived in Philly on Thursday, said that she was enjoying her time in town. "I went for a beautiful run this morning along the river," she said, referring to a jog along the Schuylkill with Secret Service agents in tow. *