Palin comes to Jefferson City
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Palin comes to Jefferson City

Date: November 3, 2008
By: Emily Coleman
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Mid-Missourians stood for nearly an hour in line and waited longer on the grounds of Missouri's Capitol for a chance to hear Republican nominee for vice president and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speak.

"Her beliefs are the same as I was taught to believe," said 14-year-old Madison Thomas of Jefferson City, mentioning also Palin's pro-life stance.

Jack Kennedy, 62, also of Jefferson City, said Palin and Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee for president, have the same views as him concerning abortion, taxes and small government.

The event had a clear rural-conservative theme. It started with live country music from Hank Williams, Jr. and was highlighted by Palin's appearance in blue jeans.

In the aftermath of national attention to the GOP budget on her wardrobe, the Jefferson City event put Palin into a working-woman, rural framework with music like Gretchen Wilson's "Redneck Woman" and Dolly Parton's "Nine to Five."

She started her speech with the economy and proposed a spending freeze to limit government spending and to double the the tax exemption credit for parents with children.

"As president, McCain will have the guts to confront the $10 trillion federal government debt that has been run up that we're expected to pass onto our children for them to pay off," Palin said. "That's not right and that's not fair."

In a stream of criticism of the Democratic nominees, Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Joe Biden, Palin said, "Now is not the time to experiment with socialism."

Palin continued, "Joe the Plumber understands that going down a road like that - where perhaps it's OK in other countries where the people are not free - what that would mean in America, too, is a stifling of the entrepreneurial spirit that grew this country into the greatest country on earth."

Jefferson City was one of a series of stops for Palin on the day before the election. She also had events scheduled Monday in Ohio, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada.

Missouri's Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, in a short press conference after Palin's rally, said that while Barack Obama's campaign is talking about the economy, the middle class and other issues, "the other campaign is talking mostly about Barack Obama."

She accused the McCain-Palin campaign of "distort(ing) Obama's record, his life and his economic policies."

Palin also spoke heavily on energy in her 20-minute speech where she said the McCain-Palin administration, if elected, would reverse energy policy and work towards the U.S. being energy independent.

"There is more coal in this free country than there is oil in all of Saudi Arabia," Palin said. "Our opponents do not understand this but we have the domestic solutions here at our fingertips in order to become energy independent."

Both campaigns have emphasized the need for their supporters to go out and vote.

In an extension of the "mine, baby, mine and drill, baby, drill" slogan Palin has used while talking about energy, Palin told the crowd, they need to "vote, baby, vote." She said voters can keep Missouri a Republican state.

Missouri is likely to be a close race for president. Most recent polls have the candidates at a practical tie, and with the margin of error and undecided voters still to weigh in, Missouri's electoral votes could go to either candidate.

"It will be close in Missouri," McCaskill said, but she continued to say that she is optimistic due to the turnout at the Obama rally in Springfield, "the most red corner of our state."

"We've had more than a quarter million people show up to Barack Obama in the last two weeks in Missouri," McCaskill said. "I think if we want to start counting crowds, I will be glad to do that. In fact, if we could decide this race right now by how many people have shown up for these two tickets, I'll take it."

While most of the people who attended the rally were McCain-Palin supporters, there were a few undecided voters and Obama supporters.

"I decided to come out to see the festivities," said Hans Overton, 45, of Jefferson City, who stood near the entrance of the rally, engaging McCain supporters in debates. "Independents need to know that there's another candidate out there."

John Kerry also held a rally on the steps of the Missouri Capitol during his bid for president in 2004.

"(The Capitol) is a public space," McCaskill said in response to question about whether political parties should use the Capitol building for rallies. "I'm glad there's a lot of people participating. What we do best is democracy."