Local Politics

Palin: McCain is his own man

Picking up where Republican presidential candidate John McCain left off in Wednesday night's debate, his running mate continued to pound away Thursday at Democratic nominee Barack Obama and his attempts to link McCain to President George W. Bush.

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ELON, N.C. — Picking up where Republican presidential candidate John McCain left off in Wednesday night's debate, his running mate continued to pound away Thursday at Democratic nominee Barack Obama.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin made her second visit to North Carolina in nine days, telling supporters at an Elon University rally, outside Burlington, that McCain would fight for them and the future of the country. Obama, she said, would hurt the nation's faltering economy and would doom the country to defeat in Iraq.

"The choice you have to make comes down to what you believe in," Palin said. "We believe in the forward movement of freedom, not the constant expansion of government. We believe the best of America is not all gathered in Washington, D.C."

Recent polls have shown McCain and Obama in a dead heat in North Carolina, a state that hasn't voted Democrat in a presidential election in 32 years.

The state's battleground status has brought both campaigns in for rallies in recent weeks, with Obama and his running mate, U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, starting the parade last month. Palin visited Greenville on Oct. 7, and McCain made his first public appearance in North Carolina in six months when he attended a Wilmington rally on Monday.

McCain also is expected to appear in Concord on Saturday, while Obama returns on Sunday for an event in Fayetteville.

Palin questioned Obama's continued attempts to link McCain to President George W. Bush, whose approval ratings are at historic lows. The Democrats are looking backward to assess blame instead of looking forward to solve problems, she said.

"As John reminded Barack Obama again [Wednesday] night, if he wanted to run against George Bush, he should have four years ago," she said, drawing cheers from a crowd at Elon's baseball field. "America knows that John McCain is his own man."

Recounting McCain's military career, including five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, Palin said he knows how to overcome obstacles.

"We need someone tough as president who is ready to lead on Day 1," she said.

Palin vowed she and McCain could balance the federal budget within four years by freezing most government spending. She criticized Obama's economic plan, saying it would harm small businesses and not help the nation recover from the current economic chaos.

"It's a choice between someone who wants to raise your taxes and redistribute your hard-earned money according to his priorities and a true reformer who wants to lower taxes and create jobs and get this economy back on track," she said.

"All people ask for is a good job in their own hometown with lower taxes and a pro-growth, pro-private sector agenda and spending control in Washington. That's how we get the economy moving again."

McCain's energy policy will involve "an all-of-above approach" that includes offshore drilling, clean coal, nuclear, solar, wind and biomass, she said. The moves would help the country reduce its dependence on foreign oil while creating jobs in the U.S., she said.

"Drill, baby, drill and mine, baby, mine," she said in response to chants calling for offshore drilling.

Palin called for a round of applause for veterans in the crowd and said McCain would ensure American troops would return victorious in Iraq.

"There is only one man in this race who has ever fought for you," she said. "He understands the virtues of freedom are worth fighting for, and he has the courage to keep on fighting."

In a one-on-one interview with WRAL’s David Crabtree after the Elon rally, Palin spoke with confidence in her belief of victory and her frustration with some of the media.

“That has been a little disheartening, but in the grand scheme of things, even that's OK because lots of other Americans are taking tougher shots than we are today,” she said.

The governor said being thrust onto the national stage has changed the way she views America.

“It's given me the perspective to see how much alike most Americans are. Working-class, middle-class Americans, who are all pretty much challenged the same way right now,” she said.


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