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Posted: September 15, 2008

Lipstick nation

Gov. Sarah Palin flies solo in Colorado

Rebecca Cole

On a day dubbed "Black Monday" — the 158-year history of Lehman Brothers abruptly came to a close; Merrill Lynch, the world’s largest retail brokerage, was acquired for $50 billion; and the Dow was down more than 500 points — Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin came to Colorado.

According to the McCain campaign, 5,000 tickets were handed out for the event at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Golden, yet the arena was not filled to capacity. Palin spoke on topics ranging from the day’s Wall Street meltdown, to energy independence and taxes, and her role in a John McCain administration

As women in the crowd waved lipstick tubes in lieu of "Freebird" lighters and took pictures of one another, Palin acknowledged the "turmoil in the financial markets" and said "the crisis is a concern for people both on Wall Street and across the country. It’s taking a toll on our economy and that means people’s life savings."

Referring to the recent billion-dollar rescue of mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the governor from Alaska said, "And I’m glad to see that, in this case, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury have said ‘no’ to using taxpayer money to bail out another financial institution."

Palin described the financial system as "outdated" and in need of a complete overhaul, pledging that under a McCain administration, accounts and investments of hard-working Americans would be protected. "This crisis happened for several reasons."

Distancing herself and McCain from the past eight years of the Republican-led administration under President Bush, she continued, "Washington has been asleep at the switch and ineffective, and management on Wall Street has not run these institutions responsibly and has put companies and markets at risk."

Calling it "one of the highest priorities of our administration," Palin said she and McCain would end the abuses and golden parachutes that break the public’s trust in the financial industry. Yet Palin didn’t dive into specifics of the plan, only saying she and McCain would work to restore integrity to the industry.

If elected, Palin just might need to roll up her sleeves and get to work. Giving a clue as to what her primary mission under McCain would be, Palin said government reform — along with energy security — would be her domain. "John and I have worked out a plan on what I want to concentrate on and what he would like to kind of tap me to help him with," she said.

Palin’s credentials as an earmarks-buster and saying ‘no’ to special interests, widely touted by the McCain campaign, have come under fire recently. The "bridge to nowhere," a $400 million Alaska boondoggle long used by McCain to express his disdain for pork-barrel projects was touted by Palin again today as one she refused. ("About that bridge to nowhere, I did tell Congress, ‘thanks but no thanks.’")

But in 2006, Palin did back it. And then killed it in 2007 when it became clear the project was the subject of bitter debate and ridicule in Congress. By then, much of the $398 million earmarked for the project had already been distributed in transportation projects around the state.

After giving a shout-out to the nearby National Renewable Energy Laboratory — "There’s vital research there and you’ll see a lot more of that in the McCain/Palin administration" — Palin said she would work with "all of McCain’s strategies" to increase domestic energy supplies, including domestic drilling. "We need to drill now to make this nation energy independent," she said.

Palin told the crowd that their opponents, Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden, would increase taxes on almost everything - income, investment, payroll and business taxes. The boos turned to cheers when Palin said the McCain administration would provide tax relief "to all Americans" and create new jobs.

Although Palin did not offer specifics, she pointed to her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, where she was mayor for eight years, as an example of her experience with fiscal responsibility and job creation. Palin cited the area as the fastest-growing in the state in part because of a hands-off government approach.

"They also knew they would have elected leaders who knew that government isn’t always the answer," Palin said of the area’s constituents, including oil- and gas-industry employees recently transplanted from the Lower 48. "In fact, too often, government is the problem."

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Rebecca Cole is the online editor at Rocky Mountain Institute, a non-profit "think-and-do" tank that drives the efficient use of energy and resources. Learn more about RMI's latest initiative, Reinventing Fire, to move the U.S. off fossil fuels by 2050.

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