Palin Promotes Special Needs Agenda

But Obama campaign also backs funding proposal, disputes tax claim.

ByABC News
October 24, 2008, 8:12 PM

Oct. 24, 2008 — -- At campaign rallies for Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, they have been a visible presence -- families with children who have disabilities.

You see small heads sticking out of baby slings or tiny faces peering up at the stage from a stroller. Many are children with Down syndrome.

Their parents feel a connection to the Alaska governor by virtue of her fifth child, infant son Trig, born with a disability.

"One of the most wonderful experiences in this campaign has been to see all the families of children with special needs who come out to rallies and events just like this," Palin said today in Pittsburgh. "We have a bond there. We know that children with special needs inspire a special love.

"You bring your sons and daughters with you, because you are proud of them, as I am of my son," Palin continued. "My little fella sleeps during most of these rallies, even when they get pretty rowdy. He would be amazed to know how many folks come out to see him instead of me."

Palin has often said she will be an advocate for parents of children with special needs if she reaches Washington.

"I pledge to you that, if we're elected, you will have a friend and advocate in the White House," she said at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis last month.

Today, she finally outlined what that advocacy might look like, using her first major policy address of the campaign to talk about issues facing children with disabilities.

"Too often, even in our own day, children with special needs have been set apart and excluded," Palin said. "Too often, state and federal laws add to their challenges instead of removing barriers and opening new paths of opportunity. Too often, they are made to feel that there is no place for them in the life of our country, that they don't count or have nothing to contribute.

"This attitude is a grave disservice to these beautiful children, to their families, and to our country -- and I will work to change it," Palin said.