by Ted Manna
American Reporter Correspondent
Colorado Springs, Colo.
September 7, 2008
PALIN: OUT OF THE PLANE AND INTO THE FIRE
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Sept. 6, 2008-- This is how it starts, this elaborate electoral dance with the country's voters. Republican candidate for president Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin stepped off their brightly-lit Straight Talk Air chartered jet last night, into a cool mist visible in the blazing headlights of the happy caravan that waited to carry them straight toward their date with destiny - Election Day.
It won't be cool and misty around Gov. Palin for long, however.
The campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has already sc`ored her for attracting some $300 in earmarks for every man, woman and child in Alaska - compared to the national average of $30 per person in other states.
She quickly struck back on Saturday, though, saying Sen. Obama had won more than abillion dollars in earmarks for hi Illinois constituency. "Just wait till John McCain puts a stop to that," she said. McCain pleaded in his acceptance speech last Thursday night to end the coveted earmarks that cost American taxpayers billions of dollars each year but individually benefit just a few in their home states.
The long-distance exchange as she related it was nonetheless enough to spark wild cheers and applause from an appreciative audience. In the words of one campaign worker, she "has ignited this campaign like a California wildfire."
The nominees brought their "Road to Victory Rally" to this Rebublican bastion in the shadow of the mighty Pikes Peak Friday afternoon, and the 10,000 tickets distributed didn't come close to meeting the demand.
The 85,000 voices cheering for the Democrats' presidential pick, Sen. Barack Obama, 60 miles north in Denver, had barely died away before the reverberations of McCain's stunning vice-presidential selection reached the Rocky Mountains.
In this sprawling city at the foot of the Rockies that is home to the U.S. Air Force Academy and widely known for its conservative voters, Palin took the occasion to blast Sen. Joe Biden, who has said she will be a "formidable" opponent in upcoming vice-presidential debates despite little experience to compare to Biden's 30 years in Congress, where he chairs the Senate Foreign Relations committee.
The rally was a remarkable contrast to one a near here a month ago, when McCain stood before just 300 workers at a Colorado company to ask for their votes. After his startling choice of a running mate seized the media spotlight, this afternoon to an overflow crowd of 13,000, and many more were turned away for lack of space.
As thousands waved American flags inside a cavernous hangar, Palin called Sen. Biden "a fine man" but one flawed by his Establishment ties, according to Newsday.
"Senator Biden can claim many chairmanships across many, many years in Washington. He certainly has many friends in Washington's establishment," Palin said.
"But most of his admirers," she said, "would not call him an agent of change." But, she said, "Senator McCain has called us a ticket of mavericks."
This was the third stop together in the 72 hours since McCain accepted hia party's highest accolade in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., the site of the Republican National Convention, after brief stops in Wisconsin and Chicago.
Barely pausing at the top of the stairway of the campaign plane "Straight Talk Express," McCain, accompanied by his wife Cindy, and Alaska's Gov. Palin, were loaded into a waiting black SUV and their accompanying entourage quickly sped off.
Flanked by U.S. Secret Service vehicles, local police cruisers and motorcycles, the motorcade's flashing lights flared briefly, not even causing a ripple on the Ronald Reagan Highway, the name given to Interstate 25 in staunchly Republican El Paso County - home to the evangelical Christian congregation Focus on the Family's and former GOP presidential candidate Rep. Tom Tancredo.
It's probably not coincidence that the first major stop on the campaign trail was here, the home of McCain's most vocal detractors in the GOP ranks. Rev. James Dobson, who heads Focus on the Family has stated previously he would not support the Arizona senator's presidential bid, but that stance softened sowmewhat after the convention. The strong conservative base is sure to jump on the Palin bandwagon however, given her opposition to abortion and contraceptives in high schools.
The campaign did not respond to The American Reporter's query on the timing or location of the first stop on the Road to Victory tour, but it is sure to benefit from media coverage of scores of adoring Palin fans, who themselves are reminiscent of the kind of attention Obama first generated here in his primary battle.
The allure of the first women Republican vice-presidential candidate seems to match the response to the country's first African-American nominee for President.
Joe Shea contributed to this story from Florida.