Bill Scanlon
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October 20, 2008
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Palin speaks in Colorado Springs, Colorado

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado " About 30 people stand outside the rightfield fence to try to get a look at Sarah Palin.

Photo by Photo by: Ed Sealover, The Rocky

About 30 people stand outside the rightfield fence to try to get a look at Sarah Palin.

Harriet Lewis shows off her "It's a girl!" button at Monday's Sarah Palin rally. Lewis showed up at 5:30 a.m. to get a front-row seat.

Photo by Photo by: Ed Sealover, The Rocky

Harriet Lewis shows off her "It's a girl!" button at Monday's Sarah Palin rally. Lewis showed up at 5:30 a.m. to get a front-row seat.

Marjorie Turpin of Danville, Va., was in El Paso County visiting her daughter when Sarah Palin's visit was announced. They got tickets right away.

Photo by Ed Sealover, The Rocky

Marjorie Turpin of Danville, Va., was in El Paso County visiting her daughter when Sarah Palin's visit was announced. They got tickets right away.

Piper Palin flashes a big smile as she waits in line for ice cream with her mother, Gov. Sarah Palin, at the Cold Stone Creamery on Powers Blvd. on Sunday evening, October 19, 2008 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Piper is holding Palin's youngest child, Trig Palin.

Photo by Associated Press

Piper Palin flashes a big smile as she waits in line for ice cream with her mother, Gov. Sarah Palin, at the Cold Stone Creamery on Powers Blvd. on Sunday evening, October 19, 2008 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Piper is holding Palin's youngest child, Trig Palin.

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Vice presidential candidates Sarah Palin and Joe Biden are visiting Colorado this week. The Rocky is now blogging live from Palin's appearance in Colorado Springs.

9:45 a.m.

Palin wound up her speech to the Colorado Springs faithful with words about the nation.

"We still believe that America is that shining city on the hill.

"I thank God we have a man ready and willing to lead it, someone who inspires us with heroic and trustworthy deeds, and not just words.

"He is ready to get this economy back on track and win these wars. John McCain and I are asking for your votes.

"In this campaign there is only one man who has ever really fought for you. He is John McCain.

"And thank you Colorado. God Bless Colorado and God Bless America."

With her final words, the PA system blares, Shania Twain's: "She's not just a pretty face.

"She hosts a T.V. show--she rides the rodeo

She plays the bass in a band

She's an astronaut--

a valet at the parking lot

A farmer working the land

She is a champion--she gets the gold

She's a ballerina--the star of the show ... "She's not just a pretty face."

9:40 a.m.

Palin tells the Colorado Springs crowd that "We will safely drill for billions of barrels of oil that we have underground and that includes off the continental shelf.

"We will drill here and we will drill now.

"We will set this country firmly on a path toward energy independence."

Palin said that as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, she eliminated personal property taxes. "We made our town a place where businesses were welcome.

"We made a vibrant, booming community with a pro-growth, pro-private-sector agenda. "We got government out of the way. We suspended our state fuel tax" and returned it to the people "because it's their money and they can spend it better than government can spend it for them.

"In our administration we will never forget who we are accountable to - it is to the people who hired us, you the people of America."

You have a clear choice, a politician who puts his faith in government and a real leader who puts his faith in you and will put this country back on track with free enterprise."

"Colorado, are you ready to help us put the maverick of the Senate in the White House?"

"We believe in what Ronald Reagan believed in, the forward movement of freedom and not the constant intrusion of government.

"We believe in those of you who are protecting us and protecting the virtues of freedom.

"We believe that America is not the problem, America is the solution."

Palin then led the crowd in a chant of "USA, USA, USA!"

9:28 a.m.

Sarah Palin doesn't disappoint -- not her critics, not her fans, not her mimics.

As Hank Williams Jr. finishes us, "Family Tradition," she says, "You betcha, Thank you Hank Williams Jr."

She asked all the veterans to stand so "we can honor you."

She introduced daughters Willow and Piper and then said, "We've also got Alaska's First Dude. Todd Palin is here. A north shore fisherman. He works with his hands."

Then she turned her thoughts to John McCain.

"We need a leader ready to lead on day one, someone with a bold and fair and free plan of action. We need John McCain."

"Our plan will get the economy back on track. It's not just words. We will bring tax relief to every American and every businessman."

"John and I will actually lower your income tax. We are going to cut capital gains taxes. Business owners, we are going to cut business taxes to help keep American businesses in America."

Palin said Obama isn't being candid about his tax plans. "It is not mean-spirited and negative campaign when someone is called out on their record and their plans and on their associations."

Palin told the crowd that a lot of American's don't pay taxes. Obama "claims he'll cut the income taxes of 95% of Americans. But the problem is 40 percent of Americans pay no income taxes at all. How can you cut income taxes for people who don't pay them?"

She called Joe the Plumber "the winner of last week's debate."

When Palin said, "Senator Obama wants to 'spread the wealth," she evoked a huge "Booo!" from the GOP crowd.

Palin said spreading the wealth means "spreading it however government wants to.

"Joe Biden says higher taxes are patriotic. Joe the Plumber said it sounded to him like socialism."

She said McCain will impose a spending freeze on everything except the most essential programs of government and said he'll balance the federal budget by the end of his first term.

9:18 a.m.

After the "Star Spangled Banner," Hank Williams Jr. sings the new version to his song "Family Tradition" with a swipe at the media:

The left-wing liberal media

Have always been a real close-knit family

But most of the American people

Don't believe 'em anyway, you see

Stop and think it over

Before you make your decision

You may smell something wrong

They're gonna come down strong

In the McCain/Palin tradition

And it went from there, lyrics connecting Barack Obama to "terrorist" William Ayers.

"John is a maverick and Sarah fixed Alaska's bad condition."

"Sarah why do you hunt, John why do you fish? How can you be so smart and savvy and have such good lookin' kids?"

9:14 a.m.

How much love does Palin engender among the Republican faithful in El Paso County? About 30 people are standing outside the right field fence here at Security Service Field to try to catch just a glimpse of her.

The majority are here because the stadium itself was too crowded to get into, and this was the best chance to see Palin. Lorie Fabian of Colorado Springs said that while she'd like to be sitting inside, she'd take her cheap seats because "I think she's going to be the next vice president."

Others were not as happy at their location, however. One woman complained that organizing was lousy and more people should have gotten inside the stadium, which has empty areas in the outfield and in the seats behind first base and third base.

9:12 a.m.

Sarah Palin is introduced after hearing "Eye of the Tiger," a la "Rocky."

Palin and her daughters, Piper and Willow, walk through the crowd on their way to the podium, winking, waving, smiling, her beehive up, sporting a red jacket and those Tina Fey glasses..

"Thank you so much, Colorado Springs, thank you. Thank you so much for that warm welcome."

When the applause finally softens, Palin says, "OK so after a long wait then certainly you deserve more than just a political talk. We have our good surprise for you and that is singing the National Anthem, Hank Williams Jr."

9:08 a.m.

It's just 41 degrees at Security Services Field in Colorado Springs, but heavy coats and the hot licks of Hank Williams Jr. are keeping the GOP faithful warm enough as they await the feature event, an appearance by vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Williams keeps reminding the crowd that Sarah Palin is one of them, and so is he, and there can't be anything more American than that.

"I'm a good old boy ... all my rowdy friends have settled down ..." he sings.

He reminds the crowd that "June Carter Cash is my godmother," then played the Johnny Cash classic, "I Walk the Line."

Hank Williams Jr. puts away his guitar, and the PA system plays, the Journey song, "Don't stop believing."

As the song ends, the crowd chants, "Sarah, Sarah, Sarah!" and then the music switches to "Sly and the Family Stone's "Everyday People," ..

"Different strokes for different folks ... we've all got to live together ..."

9:06 a.m.

It takes a national political star like Sarah Palin to bump some of the local political royalty down a little in their roles.

El Paso County Republican Party Chairman Greg Garcia, the guy who is normally behind the scenes running these big shows, was working the parking lot early on.

And Bentley Rayburn, a two-time congressional candidate, popped up as an usher. No name tag, no nothing: Just a paper sign pinned to him that said "Volunteer."

No one was complaining. The chance to see the potential vice president was all that was needed to get people to volunteer in all capacities, several of them said.

8:56 a.m.

In case you're watching the live stream of this event at home and wondering what it's like out here, be advised: It's cold. Damn cold.

One crowd member said that it was 41 degrees when she left her house around 5:30 this morning. And it's only gotten colder since then.

The weather seemed to have a chilling effect on the thousands of people gathered here at first. Paul Wiig of Colorado Springs tried to get a "No! Bama!" chant going before 8 a.m. - you know, the kind where half the stadium yells "No!" and the other half yells "Bama!" and was met with a lot of stares from people in scarves and big woolen gloves sucking on hot chocolate.

But country star Hank Williams Jr. is on stage now, turning some of his classics into "McCain/Palin-lyriced" songs - and the crowd is up on its feet and cheering. Just to add to the "It's Colorado and this is how you get people excited" feel of the event, Williams was presented a John Elway jersey at the start of the show.

8:53 a.m.

Hank Williams Jr. warms up the Colorado Springs crowd for Sarah Palin's appearance with the Waylon Jennings classic, "Good Hearted Woman."

"She's a good-hearted woman in love with a good-timing man. She loves him in spite of his wicked ways ..." and then a twist for the local crowd: "

"All these good-hearted women in love with these good-timing Colorado men."

Williams then took a break to say, "I have a daughter who owns a small business and I decided I'm not going to sit on my butt while this stuff is going on. I'm going to go out and talk to the American people. The American people are the jury and I don't have any doubt about this election at all."

Williams Jr. made it clear he's a fan of Palin, the helicopter-flying, wolf-hunting, moose-dressing governor of Alaska.

He told the crowd that when he takes celebrities and athletes to his Montana ranch and see them get their first bass or first elk or first deer, "That's the greatest reward I could ever see."

8:48 a.m.

Hank Williams Jr., his cowboy hat decorated with bling, approaches the stage in Colorado Springs and says, "I want to go elk hunting in Colorado this time of year, but this here is more important."

He then rouses the crowd with a medley including his trademark line, "Are you ready for some football?"

Next up for Hank Williams, Jr. is "The Conversation," and the line, "Yeah, back then they called him crazy, now a days the call him a saint. Now the ones that called him crazy, Lord, are still writing on his name."

8:46 a.m.

So how early did one have to get here to get front-row seats at Security Service Field for the Sarah Palin rally?

Try 5:30 a.m. And Harriet Lewis was happy to do it.

Armed with a grande Starbucks coffee, the Colorado Springs resident packed in the first row behind the stage with several friends. All wore red jackets and red hats - they had gotten word to wear red and flood the stadium, they said - and made sure they were made up to catch the eye of the TV cameras. Lewis' friend Connie Espander even brought lipstick for anyone who'd forgotten it.

"I called my mom and said: 'Put on Fox News. I'm right over her left shoulder,'" said Mary VanHorn of Colorado Springs, who was sitting one row behind them.

Lewis was proud to sport a button on her scarf that reads: "It's a girl" and has a pink Republican elephant on it.

"We need to shake up Washington, because people in the Congress and the Senate need a kick in the blank," Lewis said when asked why she was so excited to see Palin. And yes, she actually said "blank."

8:37 a.m.

Red jackets, red cowboy hats, there's red everywhere in the crowd at Security Service Field in Colorado Springs, as thousands await the appearance of GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Colorado Springs is a Republican stronghold and John McCain knows he has to win big here to have a chance to take Colorado on Nov. 4.

A huge banner, "Country First," forms a backdrop for the speakers.

8:35 a.m.

Four Republican luminaries from the area have preceded Sarah Palin to the stage.

First was State House Minority Caucus Chairwoman Amy Stephens of Monument. She was followed by Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, Senate nominee Bob Schaffer and retiring U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard.

Schaffer drew the biggest reactions among the crowd by asking if they wanted a president who would raise or lower taxes.

Lamborn made a special point of emphasizing that the national deficit has passed $10 trillion. He really got the crowd going by noting Palin's strong anti-abortion record - an issue that largely has been downplayed in the race but still plays very well here in the hometown of Focus on the Family.

Every speaker, of course, mentioned Palin, and most plugged Schaffer's Senate bid. But the third-most-mentioned person over the past 15 minutes was "Joe the Plumber," the real but seemingly metaphorical Ohio small businessman that John McCain referenced repeatedly in the final presidential debate. Both Stephens and Schaffer used him to make a point.

8:31 a.m.

Wayne Allard, addressing the Colorado Springs crowd, prior to Sarah Palin's big talk this morning, said, "John McCain will support the family.

"Joe the Plumber is right," Allard, the outgoing U.S. senator from Colorado, said. "Obama's tax plan will hurt small business. I was a small businessman. It's not easy when you have an environment where you have higher taxes and more regulation. McCain and Palin will hold down taxes.

Allard told the crowd that on Sunday afternoon "I met a fellow at the hardware store. He said 'Barack sure has a lot of money. It scares me to have a president who likes to spend money.'

"I agreed," Allard said.

"I know John McCain. He fought abusive, wasteful pork-barrel spending. That has to stop."

Allard called on those at the rally to turn out the vote because McCain and Palin need a big turnout of Republicans in Colorado Springs to win Colorado, perhaps the key to the election.

As he finished, the crowd picked up the chant, "Sarah, Sarah, Sarah!"

8:26 a.m.

Bob Schaffer, warming up the crowd for Sarah Palin in Colorado Springs, said: "The way to grow an economy is through lower taxes, high economic productivity, free people and great education.

"This man in the front here says 'more capitalism.' You've got it right, sir."

"If you're sick and tired of spend, spend spend, send John McCain to the White House," Schaffer said. "He has promised to veto any spending bill that has a single earmark in it."

8:25 a.m.

Most of the crowd here is decidedly Colorado Springs-based. But Marjorie Turpin came all the way from another swing state, Virginia, for the event.

Turpin happened to be in El Paso County visiting her daughter for a couple of weeks when Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's visit to Security Service Field here in the Springs was announced. They got tickets, got here at 5:30 a.m. and got seats two rows from the field where Palin will speak.

Turpin said she is excited to see a woman on the presidential ticket but is even more excited because of Palin's conservatism.

"I believe that she does not have ties to the Washington circle and she doesn't owe anybody favors. She would make decisions for the good of the country," said Turpin of the southern Virginia town of Danville.

8:24 a.m.

Sarah Palin supporters cheered wildly in Colorado Springs this morning as speakers warming up the crowd at Security Service Field noted that the Alaska governor has a 100 percent rating from the National Rifle Association, opposes abortion and wants to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

"Drill baby drill" said one of the speakers, and the crowd responded, "Drill, baby, drill."

U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer said the election is about choosing people who want a low tax burden on Americans versus those who want a high-tax burden. "It's about creating a world of prosperity for our children."

"We have to have leaders in Washington who represent our values and who stand for freedom."

7:56 a.m.

Sarah Palin, the Alaska governor who vaulted into the nation's conscience as John McCain's vice-presidential pick, is in Colorado today, hoping her down-home charm and energizing persona can turn a very purple state just a shade red.

And with two weeks left before Election Day, how Colorado goes, so may the nation.

Palin speaks at 9 this morning in Colorado Springs, at noon in Loveland and at 6 this evening in Grand Junction.

Pundits tend to agree that Sarah Palin is one of us, but depending on who you ask, that can be either bad or good.

Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts says she's "the lowest common denominator of us, the us of myth and narrative, the us of simple mind, the reactionary, ill-informed, impatient with complexity, utterly shallow us."

But New York Post columnist Ralph Peters says she is one of us because, like most of us, she doesn't have an Ivy League education, she believes in God, she juggles job and family.

Those who smear Palin are "smearing every American who actually works for a living, who doesn't expect a handout, who doesn't have a full-time accountant to parse the family taxes," Peters wrote recently.

Palin's first event today will be at Security Service Field, home of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. A rally begins at 8. She should start speaking about 9.

In Loveland, she'll speak at the Budweiser Events Center. The program begins at noon.

And at 6 this evening she'll be at Suplizio Field at Lincoln Park in Grand Junction.

Right behind Palin will be Democratic vice-presidential pick Joe Biden, who will speak at several events in Colorado on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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The VailDaily Updated Oct 20, 2008 12:23PM Published Oct 20, 2008 12:23PM Copyright 2008 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.