Iowa Republicans are rallying around Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s running mate. On Wednesday morning, the McCain campaign dispatched several speakers to relay a message to Iowans gathered at the Republican National Convention in Minnesota.

“You have a voice, ladies and gentleman, and America needs to hear that voice.” former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele told the Iowans. “The press needs to hear that voice — that we will not stand for it.”

Steele told Iowans the media had “kicked and belittled” Palin. “The way this governor, this mother, this leader, this wife, this coach is being treated by the American press is embarassing, It is wrong.”

One Iowan shouted “Amen.” The group of Iowans whistled and clapped when Steele first mentioned her name. “Now, I just have one very straight up, simple thing to say about Sarah Palin. I know Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin is a friend of mine,” Steele said. “You don’t want to mess with Sarah Palin.”

Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, a graduate of Bloomfield, Iowa’s High School, told Iowans McCain has a “soulmate” in Palin. “I don’t know if you saw his announcement with Governor Palin, but I could see the glint in his eye,” Kyl said. “He was reenergized about being able to take this campaign, this crusade to reform government, with a soulmate — somebody who like John has opposed wasteful spending.”

Eighty-three-year-old Bud Day of Sioux City is the a retired colonel who first met McCain inside a Vietnamese prison camp. The two have remained close friends and confidants — and Day says McCain did the right thing in picking Palin. “What you really need in a running mate is kind of like a wife,” Day says. “You need somebody that you can be compatible with and who can run your household and be your friend, but you also have to have somebody that’ll tell you when you’re doing something wrong and someone who can give you some constructive ideas and constructive criticism, and I think this woman can do all of that.”

Iowa delegate Diana Hansen of Victor is a Palin fan. “I think she’ll do great. She seems to be fearless…she’s a hunter,” Hansen says. “…She can handle it and I think she can handle the pressure on her family, too, and I wish they’d just lay off, whoever’s criticizing and publicizing this. It must be all lies. It’s unfair, but that’s the way life is.”

After chatter in the blogosphere, Palin and her husband issued a statement Monday, confirming their teenage daughter was five months pregnant and would be marrying the baby’s father.

Convention delegate Mary Ann Hanusa of Council Bluffs was the Republican candidate for Iowa Secretary of State in 2006 and while she didn’t win, Hanusa says she did earn some votes because she was a woman. “Not only women, but men also appreciated the fact that there was a woman running for a position, but you have to have some competance about it as well,” Hanusa says. “It’s not just, ‘Oh, let’s throw a woman up and run her for office.’ It has to be someone who has some qualifications to run for the position.”

Hanusa says Palin’s qualified and she’s “excited” Palin is the first woman Republicans nominate for vice president. “I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s great. I think it adds diversity to our ticket,” Hanusa says.