Palin rallies Carson crowd with 15-minute speech
September 14, 2008
In a brief 15-minute speech before a raucous Carson City crowd of about 5,000, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin promised on Saturday to “shake things up” in Washington, D.C. if she and U.S. Sen. John McCain are elected in November.
In remarks laden with the campaign themes of McCain’s military service and promises of reform, Palin trumpeted her record as a small-town mayor and first-term governor in Alaska and vowed to take her track record to Washington D.C.
“I reminded people there that government is not always the answer,” she said. “In fact, too often, government is the problem.”
Despite the increasingly caustic barbs traded by McCain and his Democratic rival U.S. Sen. Barack Obama on the campaign trail this week, Palin did not use her first solo stump speech to go on the attack, largely in deference to those suffering from Hurricane Ike.
Instead, she continued to introduce herself to voters, repeating many of the same lines from her widely-acclaimed acceptance speech.
“As mayor and governor, I did try to lead by example,” Palin said. “I took a voluntary pay cut, which didn’t thrill my husband. I cut the personal chef from the budget, that didn’t thrill my hungry kids. And I put the state’s check book online for everyone to see and that didn’t thrill bureaucrats.”
In the face of growing criticism, Palin refused to drop a line from her stump speech that brags about her canceling the nation’s most infamous example of runaway earmark spending, the “Bridge to Nowhere.”
“I told Congress thanks but no thanks on the bridge to nowhere, that if our state wanted to build that bridge, we would build it ourselves,” Palin told the crowd.
According to the non-partisan PolitiFact.com, Palin campaigned for governor on a platform that supported building the bridge between two small communities in Alaska.
She only canceled the project after Congress stopped the funding in the wake of the project becoming a national symbol of wasteful spending.
The Obama campaign disputed that McCain and Palin would “shake things up” in Washington D.C.
“All they really stand for is more of the same,” Obama’s Nevada spokesman Jeff Giertz said. “On issues of importance to Nevadans, especially issues important to Nevada women, like equal pay and the right to choose, they are going to continue to sell the policies of the previous administration.
“Barack Obama is going to Washington to stand up and bring the change we need.”
Palin’s first campaign swing through Nevada was brief. She arrived at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport about 4:30 p.m., traveled directly to Carson City, spoke for about 15 minutes and then worked the rope line for another half an hour.
She then flew to Denver.
Excitement for GOP in Carson
At the event, Republican voters, beleaguered by the early momentum of the Obama campaign as well as widespread discontent with the GOP brand, repeatedly described Palin as a “breath of fresh air.”
“She’s just what we needed,” said Jan McMahon, who drove from Reno to see Palin’s speech. “She shows we’re not just doing the same old thing.”
“I knew it was going to be a close campaign, but I’m more optimistic now. We’ve got our second wind.”
Lynn Sheeketski, of Carson City, described herself as a reluctant McCain supporter until Palin joined the ticket.
“Having her on the ticket brings back good values — taking responsibility for her actions. She’s not afraid to mention God,” Sheeketski said.
Palin’s visit, followed by a planned visit by Obama to Elko on Wednesday, is an indication of the attention both campaigns are putting on the rural areas of the state, which were largely overlooked in 2004.
“George Bush won our state because of rural Nevada twice,” U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., said to the crowd. “If you want John McCain and Sarah Palin to be in the White House come January, it is going to be up to rural Nevada to turn out in numbers like we’ve never seen before.”
Palin acknowledged U.S. Rep. Dean Heller, R-Carson City, who is facing a contested reelection campaign against Democrat Jill Derby.
To crowd chants of “Drill, baby, drill,” Palin promised Alaska and Nevada would be on the forefront of helping the country achieve energy independence.
“He knows what needs to be done,” she said.