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Palin sticks to the familiar in first solo campaign stop

Sun., Sept. 14, 2008, midnight

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin made her first solo campaign appearance outside her home state Saturday, sticking largely to a speech that has boosted her popularity among Republican faithful but drawn criticism for having misstatements.

The Alaska governor repeated her claim to have killed the now-famous “Bridge to Nowhere,” which her running mate, Arizona Sen. John McCain, has derided as wasteful pork. Palin first approved of the project. She turned against it only after it proved to be a political embarrassment.

“We’re going to take our case for reform, that needed reform in D.C., to voters of every background, every party, no party,” she said. “We’re going to shake things up.”

Palin spoke less than 20 minutes, using a teleprompter, at the event in a roller hockey rink. She drew a loud and boisterous crowd. A group of roughly 5,000 broke into chants of “Drill, baby, drill!” and “Sarah! Sarah!”

“We are going to drill now to make this nation energy efficient,” she said. “You’re right, drill, baby, drill!”

In Manchester, N.H., Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama asked his supporters Saturday to help with recovery from Hurricane Ike and canceled his plans to crack jokes on “Saturday Night Live” in the aftermath of the storm. In an outdoor rally attended by thousands, he discussed the “quiet storms that are taking place throughout America” as people lose their jobs, health care and pensions, and he argued that McCain is out of touch with those struggles.

Palin’s first steps alone on the trail without McCain have been cautious. After a morning rally in Anchorage, the Alaska governor flew to Reno, Nev., and drove 30 miles to the sleepy state capital.

The rally was the only public event planned in Nevada before Palin headed to Denver. She had no events scheduled today, and is expected to rejoin McCain on the campaign trail this week.

Palin’s bid to become the first female vice president and her appeal as America’s latest “everywoman” have remained key elements of her stump speech. She repeated her hopes “to break a glass ceiling once and for all” and was introduced by Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki as a “hockey mom with attitude.”

In the outdoor rink, where women appeared to outnumber men, Palin claimed to see her counterparts. “I think I’m looking at a whole lot of other hockey moms for McCain out here!” she said, before introducing “Alaska’s first dude,” her husband, Todd.


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