Thousands gather in Shippensburg to get a glimpse of Palin

October 29, 2008|By DON AINES

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SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. -- Thousands of people endured cold, blustery weather Tuesday in a line that stretched across the campus of Shippensburg University for a chance to see and hear Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in the closing days of the presidential campaign, including a stump speech with new attacks on Democratic nominee Barack Obama.

"Let me start with a little bit of an update about our opponent's economic plans," said Palin, dressed in a fuschia jacket and black slacks, and accompanied by husband Todd Palin.

"It took old Joe the Plumber ... to get Sen. Obama to come to the point and tell us what he really meant," Palin said of Obama's comment to Ohio plumber Samuel "Joe" Wurzelbacher that he wanted to "spread the wealth."


"He thinks that it's your job to earn the wealth and that it's his job to spread it," Palin said.

"There, he was talking about the need for, quote, redistributive change," Palin said, referring to a 2001 Obama interview that recently came to light. "He said he wished the Supreme Court had been more radical" on economic issues, she said.

Palin said that, in the interview, Obama wished the court had broken "free of the essential constraints set forth by the Founding Fathers in our Constitution."

The remarks summed up two key issues for the McCain campaign in the final run-up to Nov. 4 -- attacking Obama's economic plans for redistributing wealth and what appointments he might make to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The speech was red meat for the audience, composed largely of Republican faithful, though small knots of Obama supporters were in the line that snaked through campus outside Heiges Field House. Her speech was frequently interrupted by cheers, interspersed with occasional cries of "We love you, Sarah."

A McCain administration would fix the economy, "not by spreading the money, but by spreading the opportunity," she said. That would include lower corporate taxes, which she said are the second-highest among industrialized nations and cause companies to move jobs overseas.

McCain's economic plan would "help families keep their homes and ... clean up the corruption on Wall Street," Palin said. Describing McCain and herself as mavericks, she said they would take on "that good ol' boy network" in Washington.

"It's not mean-spirited and it's not a negative campaign to call someone out on their record, their experience and their associations," Palin said of her criticisms of Obama. The candidate said Obama voted for tax increases 94 times, including one proposal that would have raised taxes on individuals making more than $42,000 a year.

"We're the only candidates in this race with a record of reform," Palin said of McCain and herself. She touched on her record as mayor of Wasilla and governor of Alaska, cutting spending, taking on special interests and suspending the state's fuel tax.

"He won't wave the white flag of surrender to the terrorists," she said of McCain's stand on the war. "As the mother of one of the troops in Iraq, he's exactly the kind of leader I want."

Palin came to Shippensburg following a joint appearance with McCain in Hershey, Pa. The campaign is stumping hard in Pennsylvania, where polls show the GOP ticket trailing in the bid for its 21 electoral votes.

Energy is a national security and economic issue with hundreds of billions of dollars going overseas, she said. McCain will have an "all-of-the-above" approach to energy independence that will include more domestic exploration, coal and renewable energy, she said.

Spending that money domestically will create new technologies and jobs while lessening the nation's dependence on foreign energy, she said.

"Drill, baby, drill, and mine, baby, mine," Palin said.

"John and I have a vision of America where every innocent life counts," Palin said, touching on another conservative issue, opposition to abortion. She then segued into the need for government to help families with special needs children, like her own.

The rally was filled with the iconography of American political campaigns -- huge flags bracketing the stage and a backdrop of the campaign slogan "Country First." Behind the stage sat hundreds of supporters, including local elected officials. Campaign workers handed red pom-poms and colored T-shirts to the VIPs, creating a red, white and blue motif behind Palin.

As the crowd waited nearly three hours from the time the doors opened to when Palin spoke, country singer Sarah Marince did her best to keep the supporters pumped up for the appearance.

As the crowd flowed out of the field house, about 40 people held up Obama signs and shouted their support for the Democrat.

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