Palin visits Clearwater, attacks Obama listen10/06/08 Mitch E. Perry
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With just over four weeks to go and trailing in many battleground states, campaign advisors for John McCain admitted over the weekend that they would more aggressively attack Barack Obama. GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin did not disappoint this morning in Clearwater.
An estimated 6,000 people showed up in Coachmen Park, many before dawn, for an event that began shortly after 8 a.m. A number of local Republicans, including Gov. Charlie Crist and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, attempted to fire up the crowd.
In her 20-minute address, the Alaska governor recited the core of her stump speech with recent additions criticizing Barack Obama on Iraq and Afghanistan.
Palin talked about her experience as a mayor and governor. She also talked about energy, a subject John McCain has said shows some off her foreign policy bona fides.
She said the Republicans want a comprehensive approach, including nuclear, wind and solar, and drilling for oil.
Trailing in the polls, McCain-Palin also aims at going hard at what remains a vulnerable spot for Democrats in national elections perennially, that they are tax and spend liberals.
Palin said she and McCain have a proven record of cutting taxes and Barack Obama has voted to raise taxes 94 times and for people who make as little as $42,000; a fact Obama's camp disputes.
Palinâ€™s entrance on the national scene after her speech at the Republican Convention was a sensation, and John McCain for the first time this year overtook Obama in many national polls.
But support for Palin in particular has soured in recent weeks, particularly after a series of undistinguished interviews with CBS news anchor Katie Couric, leading one national conservative columnist to call for her to step down from the ticket.
Palin apologized for those interviews today, and tried to laugh it off, making a reference to comic actress Tina Feyâ€™s recent impersonations of her on Saturday Night Live.
For the third straight day, Palin alluded to Obamaâ€™s relationship with William Ayres, a co-founder of the Weather Underground, a radical group formed in the 1960s that bombed buildings.
Today Obamaâ€™s senior strategist, David Axelrod said that Obama was unfamiliar with Ayres background when he was first met with him in 1995. The New York Times reported on Saturday that the two men were never close.
After the speech, WMNF spoke with several of those in attendance, who were happy that Palin is continuing to reference Ayres, such as Brian Walse.
A man named Jim wore a button bearing a picture of Barack Obama next to Osama Bin Ladin. The button asked, â€œWhatâ€™s the difference? Just a little BSâ€?
The event was tightly controlled by the McCain campaign. Before the event, this reporter attempted to speak to citizens at the event, but was forbidden by an organizer.
Palinâ€™s appearance in Clearwater was the beginning of a very busy day for her in Florida. She made two other campaign appearances, and three private fundaisers up and down the state.