Palin talks economic worries in Ohio

10/12/2008 ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio Using her folksy appeal, Palin highlighted her record as mayor of a city about the size of this small one near the West Virginia border. She said Democratic rival Barack Obama doesn't understand places like this.

"I love 'Small Town USA' because hardworking, good American (families), you guys, you just get it," Palin said while standing on a stage with an open barn as her backdrop.

"It's kind of like those simple lessons our parents used to teach us: Don't spend more than you have," Palin said. "It's that commonsense conservatism that is John McCain. ... American just cannot afford another big spender in the White House."

McCain and his running mate have toned down their attacks on rival Barack Obama. Last Monday, Palin said Obama was "palling around with terrorists." On Friday, after voters at campaign rallies shouted "terrorist" and "off with his head" toward the stage, McCain called Obama "a decent, family man" whom public shouldn't fear and cut off a woman who called him an Arab.

On Sunday, one man shouted out "Obama loves terrorists" as Palin talked about "the bad guys."

The character attacks, it appears, are now out of Palin's stump speech as the economy has become the issue on which this election will be decided.

"All across America, I know that there's a lot of anger right now," Palin said. "There's anger about the insider dealing of lobbyists. And anger at the greed of Wall Street. And anger about the arrogance of the Washington elite."

"That's right. Throw them out," a voter shouted.

"We need serious reforms to change Washington. John McCain is going to turn your anger into action," Palin promised.

She also noted her opponents' records on abortion rights, an issue key to social conservatives who initially were lukewarm toward McCain's campaign but have found enthusiasm after the pick of Palin.

"I'm not being negative. But please check out his record," Palin said, referencing Obama's pro-abortion rights positions.

A man in the crowd shouted, "Killer!"

As McCain met with his economic team to consider new proposals, Palin emphasized the kitchen-table issues that dominate this small town, where farmers work the rolling hills and the streets are filled with shuttered small businesses.

"The smell of the hay, the smell of the cut grass is just beautiful," Palin said, noting this town is about the same size as her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska.

"Once again Governor Palin was unable to tell voters how John McCain's plan for the economy is any different than the approach George Bush took to land us in this mess to begin with," said Obama-Biden spokesman Hari Sevugan.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden is scheduled to visit the area Tuesday. This was a core of President Bush's 2004 re-election bid in this swing state. Two years later, Democrat Ted Strickland won the governorship by a strong showing in this region, and both campaigns have made aggressive pushes here to connect with its working-class voters.

A poll released Sunday showed McCain and Obama in a tight race in Ohio, with McCain posting 48 percent support to Obama's 46 percent. The same poll three weeks earlier had McCain leading 48 percent to 42 percent.

Coal mines remain closed through this strip that Obama lost during his primary contest against one-time rival Hillary Rodham Clinton. McCain's campaign has worked to tap into former Clinton supporters and play up Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden's gaffe, where he said he opposed coal energy.

"Mine, baby, mine," the crowd chanted, adapting Palin's "drill, baby, drill" promotion of McCain's energy policies.

Palin also stopped in Marietta earlier Sunday and purchased apple cider at a local farmer's market.

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