On Saturday, November 1st, Sarah Palin packed the Jim Graham Expo Center at the North Carolina fairgrounds, rallying the conservative base just three days after Barack Obama’s Raleigh visit and just three days before the 2008 election. Those in attendance roared with excitement as the fast-rising star of the Republican party stated that she and John McCain “want to work for you. Will you hire us?”
Palin made her entrance to a mix of country music and the bellowing chants of “Sarah! Sarah! Sarah!” She thanked special guest Bob Dole for his service and proceeded to honor veterans in the audience. Bob Dole warmed up the crowd, describing his wife Elizabeth as a workhorse and John McCain as a normal and good man.
Citing her running mate for his experience, courage, and truthfulness, Palin said “we need John McCain now” and promised that the GOP ticket would clean up the corruption in Washington and on Wall Street. She promised to look out for senior citizens and students, saying that the government is “of the people, by the people, for the people. It should be working for you.” The crowd booed loudly as the vice presidential candidate expounded on the ten trillion dollar debt that could be passed on to future generations. Palin boasted that she and the Maverick McCain would balance the federal budget by the end of their first term by freezing spending on everything but the vitals, which she described as defense and commitments to seniors and veterans.
In lieu of her declaration to balance the budget, she assured the audience that her ticket would lower income taxes, double child tax deductions, and cut the capital gains tax, and moments later claimed the only method for Obama to fulfill his proposed programs would be to raise taxes. Defending her tactics, Palin said “It is not mean-spirited or negative campaigning to call someone out on their plans, and their record, and their associations!...It’s in fairness to the electorate so you know what you’re getting into.”
She attacked the Illinois Senator’s tax plan, calling it phony and accusing him of having an ideological commitment to higher taxes and bigger government. She accused him of waffling on the details of his tax plan and of wavering on the definition of the middle class, citing numbers from Joe Biden and Bill Richardson that clash with Obama’s interpretation. Palin said the Democrat’s tax plan would “decimate many small businesses” and given time, “Obama’s gonna be right back to raising taxes on those folks earning forty-two thousand dollars a year.”
Jumping on the now infamous “spread the wealth” statement by Obama, Palin misspoke and included herself with the media, saying “Joe-the-plumber was able to accomplish something that the rest of us in the media couldn’t accomplish, and that was to get Barack Obama to in plain language, finally, candidly explain what the intentions were for the tax plan.” She continued saying Joe has been attacked just for asking questions and boasted that “Now is not the time to experiment with socialism.” She said her ticket would spread opportunity so people can create new wealth and promised hope for those who would otherwise have their “dreams dashed by the Obama tax increase.”
Palin said she would steer America towards energy independence with an all-of-the-above approach, responding to chants of “drill baby drill” with her own exclamation of “drill baby drill and mine baby mine,” as she pushed clean coal alongside drilling and more sustainable energy sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal.
As a mother of a child with down syndrome, Sarah leveled with other parents promising to help families care for children with special needs stating “These children are not a problem, they are a priority.”
Palin cautioned against leadership that she claims is afraid to use the word victory, ignoring General Petraeus’s refusal to use the same term about Iraq, and warned that “it’s the far left wing of the Democrat party that is preparing to take over your entire federal government.” Barney Frank’s proposal to cut defense funding drew boisterous boos from the crowd which were echoed again upon mentioning the potential rule of Obama along with Pelosi and Reid.
She closed by emphasizing McCain’s service, warning the audience that Obama would somehow threaten their 2nd Amendment right, and praising the everyday working man. The question remains, will the enthusiasm behind this new political celebrity be enough to carry her ticket, in the nation and in North Carolina, over the unprecedented ground game of the Barack Obama campaign?
All photography by Tim Ayers