As thousands of supporters cheered, Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin pledged Tuesday night to bring the federal government back to the people, saying she and GOP presidential contender John McCain have the best solution to bring the nation out of its economic slump.
Palin, playing the attacker in a state the GOP is fighting to keep in its column, also unleashed a volley against Democratic candidate Barack Obama. She called him untruthful and said he would raise taxes, lose the war in Iraq and increase the size of government.
“Here in North Carolina, you can help put us in D.C. to help put the government back on your side,” she said.
Palin's was the first public event in North Carolina by a member of the Republican ticket. Tickets disappeared in hours, with some being sold later for as much as $100.
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Palin's visit came as recent national and North Carolina polls have indicated that the Democratic ticket of Obama and Sen. Joe Biden is surging as the country reels from one economic blow after another.
Obama has targeted North Carolina, which has typically gone for Republicans in recent presidential elections, as a potential swing state this year. Obama's campaign said Tuesday night that Palin's visit was yet another indication that N.C. voters could have an impact on the outcome.
“North Carolina is in play, and her visit here is a sign that they're running out of time,” said Susan Lagana, communications director for the N.C. Obama campaign.
U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a Winston-Salem Republican, told the crowd that Greenville could make the difference in November. The diverse county went solidly Republican in the past three presidential elections as Democrats crossed party lines for the GOP.
Palin supporters who made it inside East Carolina University's Williams Arena on Tuesday evening chanted “Drill Baby Drill!” or “USA” or “No-bama!” throughout the speech.
“I thought it was great,” Mike Todd, 36, a nurse anesthetist from Greenville, said after the speech. “Truthful. Honesty. Down-to-earth speech. Energetic.”
Palin brought the greatest applause in this military-friendly community when she praised the troops.
First, she asked for a show of hands of those who have served in the military. Dozens of hands shot up around the arena. Later, she said she'd tell folks what her running mate doesn't. “Truthfully,” she said, “John McCain is the only man in this race who has ever really fought for you.”