by Joe Shea
American Reporter Cofrrespondent
September 17, 2008
PLAYING THE FED
DENVER, Colo., Sept. 16, 2008 -- Partisan politics paused for a breath in toss-up state Colorado Monday, as the Democratic presidential candidate and the Republican vice-presidential pick both sought to sooth Americans shocked Monday morning by news of Wall Street's steepest drop since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, wiping out $800 billion in assets in a 504-point dive.
Democratic Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) blamed McCain and President Bush for "the most serious financial crisis that we've seen in generations," while Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska vowed that the Republican duo would ""shake things up in Washington," and "put government back on the side of the people where it belongs."
Neither offered a specific plan that would impact current regulators, or to salvage troubled institutions like General Motors, Ford, AIG and Washington Mutual. On Tuesday, however, Obama offered "six principles," including "smarter" regulation, he said his Administration would try to achieve to prevent further crises of the current magnitude. Palin also offered the outlines of a new plan the McCain camp has devised, while McCain promised to root out "reckless conduct, corruption and greed" on Wall Street with a blue-ribbon 9/11-style commission that would study the crisis.
Stocks managed to stay even during much of the day's trading as investors waited for an announcement on Fedewral Reserve Bank rate decisions. At 2:10pm EDT, minutes before the decision, oil prices stood at $91.75 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 28 points after Monday's heart-shuddering 504-point plunge, the largest in a decade. The Fed's announcement that it wiould not to change current rates sent the DJIA tumbling 60 points in seconds and traders on the floor loudly booed the decision. Investors, however, pushed stocks back to the plus side, up 145 points at the close.
The two titans of the current political epoch, Palin and Obama, appeared almost simultaneously within miles of each other in Colorado yesterday, an unprecedented display of just how competitive this presidential election will be.
Only 50 days remain before Americans vote for either the first African-American President or the first female Vice-President, the two highest-profile candidates both remarked first on the on-going Wall Street crisis before thousands of cheering, sign-waving supporters.
Both campaigns consider winning this battleground state's nine electoral votes crucial.
The differences in the two campaign styles couldn't have been more dramatic as the candidates seem to switch personalities, with "pit bull" Palin showing more cocker spaniel and Barack Obama becoming notably more aggressive. Palin was introduced to mild applause by former Gov. Bill Owens. Obama was introduced by a string of Colorado Democratic superstars, including Gov. Bill Ritter, former Transportation Secretary Federico Peņa and Colorado U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar. The emotional embraces between Ritter and Salazar separately with Obama underscored the enthusiasm he brought to the campaign.
The immensely popular Alaskan Governor, now the darling of late-night comedy after her spoofing on Saturday Night Live last week, spoke first Monday morning in Golden, Colo., at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds Westerninaire Horse Arena, to about 6,500 people.
Republicans want to regain support in this once solidly right leaning county, now possibly drifting Democratic. Polls show Palin's running mate, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), nibbling into Obama's lead here just two weeks after the state hosted the Democratic National Convention in nearby Denver. McCain has gained almost three points in some polls to draw nearly even with Obama.
The urgency of winning Colorado's nine electoral votes was demonstrated by what was Palin's second appearance here in 10 days and Obama's third; he visited Pueblo and Grand Junction, Colo., yesterday and the popular tourist destination Golden today.
McCain jumped the most among Jefferson County's demographic, predominantly white, affluent suburbanites, and saw a sharp rise in support from women after Palin's nomination. For the second time in just over a week, the dynamic former beauty queen promised some 6,500 adoring supporters to "shake things up in Washington," and "put government back on the side of the people where it belongs."
Yesterday morning, however, the fiesty former small-town mayor added another target for "some shaking up and some fixing."
"Wall Street has not run these institutions responsibly," Palin warned supporters, "so John McCain and I, we're going to put an end to the mismanagement and abuses in Washington and Wall Street that have resulted in this financial crisis."
Meanwhile, the junior Senator from Illinois who would be America's first black President continues to draw huge, diverse crowds. On Monday afternoon in Pueblo he spoke to more than 10,000 eager supporters in both Grand Junction and Pueblo, in the southern part of the state. Under a blazing blue September sky at the Colorado State Fairgrounds, just 75 miles from Palin's county fairground appearance, Obama blamed McCain and President Bush for "the most serious financial crisis that we've seen in generations."
The sleeves of his trademark crisp, white dress shirt rolled up in deference to the heat, Obama lambasted McCain's fiscal policies. "Let me describe this for you," he explained. "It's the same philosophy that we've had for the last eight years. One that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else.
"How many people have felt prosperity trickling down here in Pueblo? Now, instead of prosperity trickling down, the pain's trickled up."
Obama, like Palin, scolded Washington and Wall Street's ineptitude, accusing the government and business of "not minding the store, sticking their heads in the sand and ignoring the financial crisis."
Palin bolstered her home-grown appeal by introducing her husband, "Alaska's first dude," extolling his accomplishments as a commercial fisherman, "blue collar production worker in the oil fields of Alaska's North Slope, a proud memeber of the United Steelworkers Union - and he's a great dad." Her only reference to criticism directed at her by the Obama campaign came when she indirectly scoffed at her opponents' claim to "fight for you.
"There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you. John McCain's been through a few tough fights before," Palin said.
Obama, however, hammered savagely at McCain's performance in the U.S. Senate and Bush Bdministration's policies, seeking to regain some of last month's convention momentum while countering Republican pre-emption of some of his most hallowed tenets like change, experience and diversity.
Obama enjoyed some gains of his own, too, with polls showing major support from the state's Hispanic voters, once thought to be Obama's weakness in the race with McCain.
Colorado Springs resident Robert Davis drove 60 miles south to hear Obama speak after watching Obama's "incredible" acceptance speech in Denver last month, and brought along wife Sherri, kids Ebony, Ashley and Robert III - excused from school for the occasion. Although the children were excited to see Obama in person for the first time, Davis was more skeptical before his speech.
"The main reason we came here today," Davis said, "is that we want to make sure that the things he told us before that we believe in haven't changed." He could not be reached afterwards to see how he felt about the speech.
People leaving the rally were overwhelmingly positive, however, with comments like "awesome" and "incredible" echoing through the crowd again and again.
"I hope change comes not just for African-Americans but for society in general," Davis said. "The need for change is universal, not one-soded at all. hat's what we need." He said he believes Obama's plan for the economy "absolutely will work," but might need to be revisited "because everything will not be right, right off the bat." It was not clear whether the African-American Davis was a Democrat or Republican.
We are here in the real world, and Barack is not. Unless you've been where I've been, you vcsn't relate to me, and Barack has not been there." He attributed Obama's slip in the polls to Palin's selection and economic news.
Polls also show Palin's increasing influence on women voters in the upcoming national election, and Jefferson County is no exception.
"Palin sealed the deal for me," said Mindy D'Augustino, attending the Road to Victory Rally with her two and-a half-year old son Blake and 3-year-old niece Jasper. "I love Sarah Palin. I wasn't so much into the election before, but now I'm actually excited."
Former Democrat turned Republican Fanny Mayr, one of the 18 million Hillary Clinton supporters in the bitter Primary battle, complained "the Democrats let us down.
"I love Sarah Palin. Picking her shows how McCain wants his government to be. It shows he wants to serve the American people and put the people first. Obama and (Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Joe) Biden put politics first."
Joe Shea assisted in the preparation of this story.