McCain, Palin woo voters – Duo focuses on military resolve, independence
September 6, 2008
Buoyant and fresh from their party’s convention, presidential nominee John McCain and running mate Sarah Palin promised a crowd of more than 7,000 in Sterling Heights on Friday that they’d shake up Washington in a way Democratic rival Barack Obama can’t.
The duo, which this week revved up GOP hopes of a November victory, drove home themes of military resolve in Iraq, independence and McCain’s patriotism, while they attempted to co-opt Obama’s anthem of change.
“This is the ticket to shake up Washington because Sen. Obama doesn’t have the strength to do it,” McCain told a whooping crowd at the Freedom Hill park amphitheater. “Send a team of mavericks who aren’t afraid to go to Washington and break some china.”
It was McCain and Palin’s second post-convention campaign stop, following one in Wisconsin.
Supporters coming to the event Friday afternoon backed up traffic for a mile from the park, causing rush-hour headaches for commuters.
With a sea of “McCain-Palin” campaign placards and American flags waving before him, McCain pleaded for help, saying he needed to win Michigan to win the White House.
He said that though he and his supporters may disagree on some issues, “I will never let you down, and I will always, always, always put my country first.”
Their appearance reinforced the campaign messages of the convention this week and made it clear that national security and McCain’s unwavering support of the war in Iraq, and government reform will be linchpin issues during the final two months of the campaign.
But aside from a renewed pitch to expand offshore drilling to reduce the nation’s reliance on foreign oil, there was little mention of the troubled economy in a state with the nation’s highest unemployment rate.
“I know in Michigan that times are tough. I know all you ask from government is to stand on your side and not in your way,” McCain said.
A Gallup national tracking poll released Friday showed Obama’s lead over McCain was down to 4 percentage points from 7. The poll — with a margin of error plus or minus 2 percentage points — included one day of surveys after Palin’s much-watched acceptance speech Wednesday night.
McCain’s visit came the same day the federal unemployment report showed automakers and parts suppliers shed 39,000 jobs in the past 30 days, and the industry has lost 127,800 jobs during the past year.
The job cuts in auto manufacturing, combined with 14,000 jobs cut from car dealers and auto parts vendors, were the largest contributors to driving the national unemployment rate to 6.1% for August, according to the U.S. Department of Labor — the highest since September 2003.
Obama said the data showed the need for a second economic stimulus plan and reiterated his support for $50 billion in government loans for retooling automakers and parts suppliers to build more efficient vehicles.
“We need a fundamental change in our economy to help struggling families in Michigan, and we need to embrace policies that will help the American auto industry keep and create jobs here at home,” Obama said in a statement.
Frank Butler and his wife, Peggy, drove from Plymouth to see McCain and Palin and couldn’t have been more impressed.
“Every time I listen to him, I have more and more respect for him,” Butler said. “And she was a grand slam. She’ll be coming into Washington with fresh eyes, and hopefully she can do in the lower 48 what she’s done in Alaska.”
McCain was introduced to the late afternoon crowd by Palin, who drew cheers as loud as those for McCain.
Palin, whose oldest son is headed to Iraq with a U.S. Army unit, spent much of her remarks promoting a strong military. She mocked Obama for admitting in a television interview Thursday that the so-called surge of U.S. troops in Iraq has stabilized the war-torn country. Interrupted by chants of “Sarah, Sarah,” Palin recited McCain’s experience as a Vietnam War prisoner of war as testament to his resolve.
The Obama campaign said Friday it had received $10 million in campaign pledges since Palin’s acceptance speech.
In his remarks, McCain also said he’d cut taxes, promote alternative energy and make the U.S. energy-independent with expanded oil drilling.
McCain and Palin were greeted at Metro Airport earlier in the afternoon by two Democrats, who said they’ll vote for McCain.
Norma Portwood-Stacer held a sign that said “Hillary Democrat for McCain Palin.”
She was visibly excited by the encounter, clutching her chest and bouncing up and down after a hug from McCain and Palin.
The other, Laurel Federbush of Ann Arbor, described herself as a left-wing independent who supported Dennis Kucinich for president during the primary season.
She said she liked McCain’s opposition to torture during interrogations on prisoners.