Mount Vernon, Virginia (CNN) - The politically charged battle over entitlement reform briefly interrupted Sarah Palin's tightly scripted bus tour on Monday, when a tourist visiting George Washington's historic home at Mount Vernon told Palin to "protect our Medicare."
A middle-aged woman who said she worked in the health care industry approached Palin while she was signing autographs and posing for pictures with tourists at Mount Vernon, the second stop on Palin's closely watched "One Nation" bus tour.
"I work in health care," the woman announced. "Please protect our Medicare."
Reporters covering Palin's Mount Vernon visit were positioned too far away to hear the remark, but a CNN microphone picked up the audio.
It was not clear if Palin responded. She was swarmed by starstruck tourists and drawn in multiple directions, so it is possible she did not hear the comment.
The exchange comes as Republican presidential candidates like Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty have been forced to answer for a controversial budget passed by House Republicans that would dramatically alter the popular health care program for seniors.
The cost-cutting budget, designed by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, would replace Medicare with a voucher system that would let patients buy health insurance on the private market. Democrats, meanwhile, are accusing Republicans of trying to abolish the program.
Palin's visit to Mount Vernon was her second bus tour stop of the day, before heading to Fort McHenry in Baltimore and the battlefield at Gettysburg.
Palin and her family were escorted through the Mount Vernon grounds by John Marshall, the manor's designated tour guide for special guests. They entered the historic grounds on the "One Nation" bus - which features yellow Alaska license plates - through a back entrance.
The tour lasted about 45 minutes, according to a Mount Vernon official who guided members of the media to an outdoor position about 100 yards from the Washington home, where they could take photographs of the Palins.
Once in view of the press, Palin and her daughter Piper were seen listening to a handful of Mount Vernon employees in period dress.
Daughters Willow and Bristol walked ahead, while husband Todd lagged behind and chatted with John Coale, an informal adviser and the husband of Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren. A handful of staffers were also present.
Also joining Palin were her parents, Sally and Chuck Heath. Chuck Heath was wearing a purple T-shirt emblazoned with "ALASKA" and excitedly snapping photos.
The family posed for a portrait in front of the Washington home, and then shook hands and took pictures with the group of tourists. They also visited Washington's tomb before departing.