Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin attacked Sen. Barack Obama in a fiery Oct. 26 speech in the Asheville Civic Center arena, branding the Democratic presidential candidate “Barack the wealth-spreader.” The Republican vice presidential nominee also told a crowd of thousands that she and Sen. John McCain would cut taxes.
“If you are ready to shake up Washington, clean up Wall Street, get our economy on track, win the war against the terrorists, then North Carolina, we are asking for your vote,” said Palin.
“It doesn’t sound like a whole lot of you are going to be supporting Barack the wealth-spreader …” she said to applause, “because you understand that his plan to redistribute wealth would punish hard work, it would discourage productivity and would stifle the entrepreneurial spirit that made this country the greatest country on earth. Our opponent’s plan doesn’t get it: Bigger government is the problem. Instead of taking your money and spreading it, John McCain and I want you to keep more of it so we can help you spread opportunity.”
Obama’s proposal would cut taxes or give tax credits to Americans making under $150,000 while raising taxes on those making over $250,000 (bringing their rate back to 1990s levels). McCain would simply cut taxes (including corporate taxes), with those making more money getting a larger cut.
According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, most Americans would see their after-tax income rise by between 0.5 percent and 2 percent under McCain’s plan. Those in the top 20 percent income bracket would see a 6 percent increase; the top 1 percent would get an 8 percent increase. Under Obama’s plan, most Americans would see their after-tax income rise from somewhere between about 2 percent and 6 percent, with those in lower income brackets seeing a higher percentage increase. Under this plan, the top 20 percent bracket would pay 2 percent more in taxes, while the top 1 percent would pay about 11 percent more.
After an introduction by N.C. Sen. Richard Burr, Palin took the stage, getting an enthusiastic welcome from the crowd. She asked country artist Gretchen Wilson to perform “I’m a Redneck Woman” and join the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to Palin’s mother via a cell phone the candidate held onstage.
Emphasizing that the fight for the White House is far from over, Palin said: “Elections are not decided until votes are counted, but our opponent once again seems to be getting out ahead of himself. Just yesterday, The New York Times reported that Barack Obama’s inaugural address is already written.”
The crowd booed loudly—as it did repeatedly when Obama was mentioned—and one man shouted, “Flush it!” (Many in attendance toted small toilet plungers in reference to the “Joe the Plumber” theme.) “You get the feeling the Obama campaign thinks this election is just a formality,” continued Palin. “They’ve overlooked one detail: the confidence and trust they’d have to earn before you vote for them. … Judging from the media coverage, the coronation has already been set. But as for me and John McCain, we don’t take any vote for granted—we’re respectfully asking you for it.”
The Times article reported that the head of Obama’s transition team, John Podesta, “has already written a draft Inaugural Address for Mr. Obama, which he published this summer in a book called The Power of Progress.” However, the address in the book is for a hypothetical progressive president. The Obama campaign has called the claim about an already-written inaugural address “completely false.” When Podesta submitted the manuscript to publishers in March, Obama was not yet the Democratic nominee, and Podesta was supporting Sen. Hillary Clinton‘s campaign.
Many in the crowd had stood for hours in a line that wrapped around the block. Brenda Harris drove from Chesnee, S.C., to attend the rally. Standing in line, she said: “We’re very proud of Palin, and think she’s very qualified. She set a great example in Alaska.” Asked what she thought an Obama victory might mean, Harris said: “I fear for an attack on our country from the outside. I think that Obama will sell us out to those who hate us.”
Across the street, Hendersonville resident Pan Perkins stood amid a crowd of pro-Obama demonstrators that grew as the afternoon wore on. Waving a sign that read “Working Families for Obama,” she said she was there “with some of my friends with the Postal Workers union to show my support and impress people to vote early.” Saying she’s helped register hundreds of new voters this year, Perkins predicted that Obama would carry North Carolina, noting, “I think we’ve got the momentum and we’re on the way to victory.”
Enthusiastically waving an Obama/Biden sign, Asheville resident John McKewn said, “We’re not necessarily against the other people—we just want them to open their eyes to reality.”
Down on the arena floor, however, fellow Asheville resident Joy Thylander had a decidedly different outlook. “We don’t trust Obama; we don’t feel like he’s been vetted,” she told Xpress. “We don’t feel like they’ve checked him enough as far as his radicalism, his associations with William Ayers, Rev. Wright, the undermining politics of Chicago.”
Acknowledging that the country is facing “tough economic times,” Palin described McCain as “tough, with a bold plan of action.” She promised to “clean up the corruption and the self-dealing on Wall Street” and guarantee savings and investments, while cutting the national debt by imposing a spending freeze on “all but the most vital functions of government and balancing the budget by the end of our first term.”
The crowd could trust her and McCain, asserted Palin, because they’ve both tackled corruption and special interests. She also said their energy plan would lead to energy independence for America by encouraging increased oil drilling, natural gas and coal production, and other new energy sources.
“We’ll develop new sources and we’ll tap into what we’ve already got, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs right here in the U.S.A. ,” Palin vowed.
Some in the crowd began chanting, “Drill, baby, drill!”
“We will ‘drill, baby, drill,’” replied a smiling Palin. “And ‘mine, baby, mine!’”
She ended her speech by saying, “Our opponents are claiming that they’ll fight for you. But since my running mate won’t say this on his own behalf, I’ll say it for him: There is only one man in this race who has ever really fought for you.”
The crowd went wild, and Palin continued, “Only one man has the courage to keep fighting for you, and that’s John McCain. God bless you, and God bless America.”
Appearing with her husband, Todd Palin, the candidate shook hands with supporters as she made her way out of the arena.
To view video and photo galleries from the rally, go to www.mountainx.com.