The banners, buttons and signs say McCain-Palin, but the crowds say something else.
“Sa-rah! Pa-lin!” came the chant at a Colorado Springs rally on Saturday moments before Republican nominee John McCain took the stage with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The day before, thousands screamed “Sa-rah! Sa-rah! Sa-rah!” at an amphitheater outside Detroit.
Since her speech at the Republican National Convention, watched by more than 40 million Americans, Palin is emerging as the main attraction for many voters at their campaign appearances.
“She's the draw for a lot of people,” said Marilyn Ryman, who came to see Palin at the Colorado rally inside an airport hangar, “the fact that she's someone new, not the old everything we've seen before.”
McCain has sought to portray Palin as a bulldog who will help him “shake things up” on Capitol Hill.
Washington, he said Saturday, is “going to get to know her, but I can't guarantee you they'll love her.”
“We do!” came a cry from the crowd.
Perhaps recognizing the excitement she is generating, the McCain campaign was planning to keep Palin with McCain for several more days, rather than dispatch her to campaign by herself, as had initially been discussed.
On Saturday, McCain and Palin rode their post-convention wave into the competitive West, where Democrats have made recent gains in traditional Republican strongholds.
After a day of talking up economic themes in the Midwest, the pair attracted thousands at a rally in Colorado Springs, a city at the foot of Pike's Peak that is home to many conservatives and military families.
It was McCain's first appearance in Colorado since the Democrats had their convention in Denver last month.
Both campaigns consider the battleground state in play with the election less than two months away.
“Colorado, it's going to be a hard-fought battle here,” Palin said. As soon as she began speaking, a group of supporters interrupted her with a cheer of “Sa-rah! Sa-rah!”