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AUDIO: Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin

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Laura J. Gardner | The Journal Gazette
Gov. Sarah Palin arrives onstage Saturday night at Memorial Coliseum with her daughters Piper, left, and Willow.

Saturday night alive

Rowdy crowd fills Coliseum, hears Palin rip Obama ideas

Sarah Palin energized a near-capacity crowd at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night by attacking Barack Obama's tax policies and promising to fight for Hoosier values.

When Palin took the stage just after 8 p.m., an already raucous crowd erupted.

The Alaska governor and Republican vice-presidential nominee spent much of her 40-minute speech attacking Democrat Obama's tax plans.

Numerous times she said he plans to raise taxes, spend nearly $1 trillion more on government and redistribute wealth, calling Obama “Barack the wealth spreader,” which drew boos from the crowd.

“Barack Obama is going to raise your taxes,” she said. “We will lower taxes. We will promote growth, … because we trust you, America.”

Palin said she and presidential nominee John McCain would cut taxes so people could create more jobs.

She said McCain would freeze government spending except for essential services. She also promised the two would balance the federal budget by the end of their first term.

Palin made numerous references to Joe Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, in her speech. She said he has been unfairly attacked by Obama and the media for asking a legitimate question about Obama's tax plan.

Because the cold weather in Fort Wayne forced her to put on a coat, Palin hinted at the recent controversy surrounding the campaign buying thousands of dollars of expensive clothes for her and her family.

“And it's my own jacket from Wasilla,” she said, referencing her hometown.

Not surprisingly, the large crowd cheered vociferously for Palin's pledges to fight for the common man and booed numerous times whenever Obama and his running mate, Joe Biden, were mentioned.

Several members of the crowd showed signs, one reading “Pitbulls Against Liberals In November,” and several people wore shirts that read “I'm Joe the Plumber.”

Palin and the other speakers called on the crowd to do everything they could next month to ensure Indiana remained a red state. Hoosiers haven't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in 44 years. She asked the crowd, “So Indiana, will you hire us? We want this job.”

Kyle Circle, 36, from Fort Wayne, said the McCain-Palin ticket already has his vote.

The carpenter said he's scared of the way the country is headed - especially with the economy and possible limits on gun rights. He supports Palin because he feels she can relate to him.

“She went to Wal-Mart and bought her own diapers,” he said. “You know she's real.”

Cheryl Goudy of Angola said she was somewhat surprised to see a Republican vice-presidential nominee campaigning in Indiana so close to the election.

The secretary for the Steuben County commissioners said she was fairly confident Indiana would vote for McCain.

“I think the smaller communities are still Republican,” she said.

This was Palin's first visit to northeast Indiana and the first visit by a Republican presidential or vice-presidential candidate this year.

Obama visited northeast Indiana several times during the primary election and has returned since winning the party's nomination.

Palin was preceded onstage by country music star Hank Williams Jr. He performed for about 20 minutes; among the songs he played was a rewrite of his hit “Family Traditions” for the McCain-Palin campaign.

Earlier in the day, in Sioux City, Iowa, Palin made a campaign stop at a high school before traveling to Fort Wayne. She left the Fort Wayne rally Saturday night to fly to Florida for future campaigning.