Local Politics

Palin sounds GOP themes in N.C. visit

Posted October 7, 2008 7:52 p.m. EDT
Updated October 8, 2008 9:38 a.m. EDT

— Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president, energized thousands of supporters Tuesday night as the GOP tries to maintain its hold on a state that usually backs Republicans for president.

Speaking to a raucous crowd of more than 8,000 people at Minges Coliseum on the campus of East Carolina University, Palin said her running mate, U.S. Sen. John McCain, was the right choice for president.

"He doesn't just talk about change. He's the only candidate running for president who's got a track record of making change happen," she told the crowd, who serenaded her with chants of "Sarah, Sarah."

Palin's visit marked the first appearance in North Carolina by the Republican ticket since McCain spoke in Winston-Salem on May 6, the same day as the state's primary election.

Recent polls have shown a tight race in the state between McCain and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate. North Carolina hasn't backed a Democrat for president since Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Obama and his surrogates have made several visits to the state in recent weeks in an effort to put North Carolina into his column. He spoke at an Asheville rally Sunday, and his wife, Michelle, addressed military families in Jacksonville Tuesday afternoon.

Palin touched on themes she and McCain have sounded for weeks – tax cuts, expanding domestic energy exploration, reforming health care and Social Security and winning the war in Iraq.

"The phoniest claim in a campaign that's been full of them is that Barack Obama is going to cut your taxes," she said, maintaining that Obama's political career has been built on tax increases.

"It's a left-wing agenda packaged and prettied up to look like mainstream policies, but it's not."

She also dropped North Carolina references into her half-hour speech, noting the ECU football team staged upsets in its first two games this season and adding that she planned to watch Tuesday night's debate between McCain and Obama in Greenville because people in eastern North Carolina "get it" when it comes to the election.

"So I think she (Palin) can really change how people view Republicans in North Carolina,” said Brett Matheson, a Palin supporter at the rally.

“Sarah Palin is awesome,” said Dottie Price, another Palin supporter.

The crowd chanted "No-bama" and booed loudly whenever Palin talked about Obama's policies and his efforts to link McCain to President George W. Bush.

"Our opponents look to the past because that's where you find blame. We're joining you to look to the future because that's where you find solutions," she said.

As she has in recent campaign stops, Palin questioned Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers, a founder of the 1960s radical group The Weather Underground, and with executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two mortgage companies the federal government had to rescue last month.

"This election is about truthfulness and judgment needed in the next president. John McCain's got it; Barack Obama doesn't have it," she said.