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Sarah Palin seeks to seal the deal in Cape Girardeau

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 30, 2008 - Cape Girardeau - Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin brought her pro-life, pro-gun rights and pro-family campaign to southeast Missouri this morning, just five days before voters will be asked to decide on the country's next president.

Greeted by a capacity crowd of 7,000 supporters -- many shaking pom-pons or waving signs and thousands more in overflow quarters -- the Alaska governor said America needs a leader who "isn't afraid to use the word victory," someone who "will not wave the white flag of surrender to the terrorists." 

She said, "I would ask you, Missouri: Would you hire us?" The question was met with a resounding cheer from the crowd, many of whom had arrived at the Show Me Center at Southeast Missouri State University as early as 5 a.m., hoping for choice seats.

"Our country is going through tough times," she said, with a giant blue and white "country first" banner behind her. "Now, more than ever, we need someone tough as president. We need a leader with experience and courage and good judgment and truthfulness. We need someone with a bold and fair plan of action to take this country in a new direction.

"Soon the time for choosing will be here, and the choice could not be clearer. Only John McCain has the wisdom and experience to get our economy back on track."

If Palin was worried about polls that showed her and the GOP presidential nominee McCain trailing in both popular and electoral college support, she did not hint at any concern.

Neither did those who wore giant photo buttons of Palin that read "Girl Power" and "You go, Girl."

Just prior to her appearance, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder remarked on the size of the crowd that snaked its way around the complex in the pre-dawn cold.

"I haven't seen lines that long since they tried to restrict deer tags in Bollinger County," he joked.

"Something is happening out there," he said. "You can feel the momentum shifting."

Jamie Mayfield of Cape Girardeau came to the rally with her husband, Jeff, son Zack, 6, and daughter Zoe, 5. She said Palin has captured the enthusiasm and the admiration of mothers like her across the U.S.

"She's the perfect woman," she said. "She hunts, she fishes, she spits out babies, and she's on the campaign trail.

"She's just like us -- a common person with common-sense values."

Mayfield said that her 6-year-old son was such a big supporter that he thinks Palin -- not Mcain -- is actually running for president.

Several supporters like Chelsey Clark, an insurance company employee, said they are impressed with Palin's pro-life and pro-Second Amendment credentials, both of which play very strongly in this region. Clark also said she believes that pulling out of Iraq too quickly would be a mistake.

Palin, who introduced her husband, Todd, as Alaska's "First Dude," said she and McCain intend to help Americans keep their homes by "cleaning up the corruption and the greed that brought us the housing crisis to begun with." She criticized Democratic nominee Barack Obama as being on the side of "bigger government and raising taxes. And he calls that spreading the wealth and his running mate Joe Biden calls it patriotism.

"Remember good ole Joe the Plumber there in Toledo?"

She said, "Joe said to Obama that his plan sounded like socialism."

Joe Wurzelbacher has become a kind of American folk hero to McCain-Palin supporters, a man, they say, whose frustrations and dreams are similar to their own.

Many of those at Thursday's rally wore preprinted "Joe" stickers or evoked his name with signs that said "I'm Joe the Farmer" or "I'm Joe the Electrician."

Palin promised that under a McCain-Palin administration, "it will always be 'country first.' And I promise you after that victory on Nov. 4, those 'country first' posters won't be just put away in some warehouse. That's going to be printed on every page of the federal employee handbook."

Some of those at the rally showed their support -- or lack of support -- in unusual ways. An unidentified young man with dyed red hair had Palin's name painted across his bare chest. On his back were the words also in large red leters "Obama is a baby-killer," referring to the Democratic candidate's position on abotion rights.

Bill Myers, a financial planner from Effingham, IL, arrived with his son, also Bill Myers, an assistant principal at Jackson Junior High School.

The elder Myers called McCain "an American war hero." Like others, he said he believes that polling figures are worng and American will vote "its conservative values," like gun ownership and lower taxes, next week and elect McCain and Palin.

Among other speakers at the rally were U.S. Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, GOP gubernatorial candidate Kenny Hulshof and U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson.

"We're parents, we're moms, and we appreciate the value of life in all of its priceless forms," said Emerson, who stood alongside Palin during her speech.

While the crowd was virtually all white, it was a mix of old and young, men and women, some in work jeans and others in business attire. There also seemed to be a large group of veterans; many of them wore jackets with military emblems or hats referring to military service.