With a speech that mixed sharp criticism with ideas, Sarah Palin fired up Ross County supporters with her comments on the steps of the courthouse just six days before Election Day.
Palin, Alaska's governor and Republican vice presidential running mate of presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, hit Democratic nominee Barack Obama Wednesday afternoon with some new salvos, while blending some of the ticket's ideas on the country's future.
Talking about her own policy stances, her speech mostly focused on cutting taxes for businesses and working class Americans. She said Obama's policies would raise taxes.
"Sen. Obama has an ideological commitment to higher taxes," she said. "He voted 94 times for higher taxes. Barack Obama is for bigger government and higher taxes."
Her comments on taxes resonated well for Bob Halasz, who brought a homemade sign that read, "Bob the Builder luvs Sarah" - which garnered a mention by Palin from the stage.
"She wants to represent us, she wants to lower taxes," Halasz, a Vietnam veteran, said.
"I wasn't going to vote for McCain until he chose Sarah Palin. John McCain's a moderate, but I don't see this race in terms of party. It's about conservative values. I want us to help give people a leg up. If we cut taxes, how many small businesses would open up?"
Palin's visit - which turned out a crowd that rivaled Obama's visit on Oct. 10 - marked the third such trip by principle figures in the 2008 presidential campaign and the second by a member of the GOP. McCain visited a Chillicothe fire station in early August, but did not conduct a rally for the general public during that stop.
Palin began her remarks on the courthouse steps with a slam on Obama - and the media.
"It's not negative campaigning to call someone out on their record," Palin said. "And he's got some friends in Chicago, and you're going to hear more about Rashid Khalidi."
Khalidi, a Palestinian scholar, and Obama allegedly attended an event in 2003 together in which Khalidi spoke negatively of Israel. The Los Angeles Times has a video of the event but has not released it.
"We don't know (Obama's) response because the L.A. Times won't release it," she said. "It must be nice for a candidate to have major news organizations looking after his best interests like that."
The speech fired up many of the party's more conservative voters, such as Ivan Tribe, who traveled from Vinton County to hear Palin speak.
"She's energized us to open our pocket books," Tribe said. "She's going to win."
Though the majority of those in attendance identified themselves as Republican, when U.S. congressional hopeful Fred Dailey shouted out "How many independents do we have here?" a good number of cheers went up.
Halasz is one of many veterans who support McCain, including Lancaster resident Col. Tom Moe, who served in a prisoner of war camp with McCain during the Vietnam War.
Moe shared some of his ordeal in the camp with the audience and said he believes McCain's character is strong and makes him the best person for the job.
"My friends, Country First is not his slogan. It's his history," said Moe. "John McCain has proved himself. He has exercised courage."
Moe said one of the best examples of courage was McCain's support for a troop surge in Iraq when others in congressional leadership were opposed.
"He said ?206-140?I'd rather lose an election than my country lose a war,'" he said. "And the surge worked and he was right."
Cheryl and Lance Harrod said they admired McCain's military record, and Lance - who enjoyed a 40-year career in the military - felt McCain would be the candidate to lead during a war.
"(Lance) admires the sacrifices he made, and we believe (McCain) would be stronger on all policies," said Cheryl Harrod.