ABC News’ Imtiyaz Delawala Reports: After a day of campaigning in New Hampshire yesterday, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin made a brief stop in the state of Maine this morning, praising her running mate Sen. John McCain’s debate performance last night and saying "everyone in America got a clear look at the choice that we face on November 4th" between McCain and Sen. Barack Obama.
"It’s the choice between a politician who puts his faith in government and a leader who puts his faith in all of you," Palin told a crowd of thousands packed into an indoor airport hangar in Bangor, Maine, as a cold drizzle fell outside. "The choice between a politician who wants to raise taxes and redistribute your hard earned money according to his priorities, and a true reformer who wants to lower taxes and create jobs and get this economy back on track."
Palin quickly made reference to Joe Wurzelbacher, who became famous last night as "Joe the Plumber" after McCain raised him several times to criticize Obama’s tax policies.
"It’s the choice between a candidate who will raise your taxes, and that threatens our future, and a leader who’s going to Washington to work for Joe the Plumber," Palin said. "You know, we want to cut taxes because we think like Joe or Jane the Plumber thinks, OK? Our opponents want to raise taxes because they think like that other Joe, that six-term senator from Delaware whom I’m running against."
Palin also criticized Obama for not condemning the actions of ACORN, an advocacy group that has been under fire for gathering and filing false voter registration forms. "In this election, it’s a choice between a candidate who won’t disavow a group committing voter fraud and a leader who will not tolerate the voter fraud," Palin told the crowd.
As she does regularly on the campaign trail, Palin chided the rival ticket for trying to "look to the past" by tying McCain to the Bush administration.
"As John McCain reminded Barack Obama last night, if he wanted to run against George Bush he had his chance four years ago," Palin said to strong applause. "This year the name on the ballot is John McCain, and America knows that John McCain is his own man."
While the Obama-Biden ticket is comfortably ahead in Maine, Palin was in the state as part of a strategy by the McCain campaign to pick up one electoral vote by winning the state’s conservative 2nd congressional district. Maine is one of two states whose electoral votes can be split, with two electoral votes going to the state’s overall winner, while separate electoral votes are given to the highest vote-getter for each of the state’s two congressional districts.
While the southern 1st congressional district is reliably Democratic, the northern 2nd congressional district is more rural and conservative. The McCain campaign has shifted resources to the state in recent weeks in hopes of winning over conservative voters there. Palin’s husband Todd spent last Sunday campaigning throughout the state. And Palin said this morning that the northernmost state in the lower 48 reminded her of her home state of Alaska.
"I feel like I am at home because I see the Carhartts and the steel-toed boots," Palin said, referring to a brand of work clothes seen on some in the audience. "And I see mixed in there with the suits and the ties, the NRA hats and all those good things that remind me of home."
Palin pushed the crowd to turn out for the Republican ticket, asking them to "help us carry the state of Maine to victory" on Election Day, and telling the crowd "Maine, soon the choice will be yours to make, and I’m sure that you all remember the saying that as Maine goes, so goes the nation."
In fact, Maine has not been an accurate bellwether in recent elections, and has been a consistently blue state in national elections since 1988. In 2000, former Vice President Al Gore defeated then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush in the state by five points, and in 2004 Sen. John Kerry easily defeated President Bush in Maine by nine points — but neither Democrat won the national election.