DUBUQUE, November 4 – Sarah Palin tossed her trademark pencil skirt in favour of jeans Monday as she wooed rural votes in Iowa with the help of country music star Hank Williams Junior on the eve of the US presidential election.,
The Republican vice presidential candidate exuded confidence despite polls showing her running mate John McCain trailing significantly behind Democratic rival Barack Obama both nationally and in key battleground states.
"How about we send an American hero on one more mission," Palin said, referring to McCain’s time as a prisoner during the Vietnam War.
"Let’s send John McCain to the White House."
But many in the audience wondered why Palin was spending time in a state where Obama has a double digit lead and speculated that she could be trying to drum up support for her own run for the White House in 2012.
"I expect to see her at least run for president," said Bob Mosby, an 85-year-old supporter.
Another, Diane Bowers, said she would happily vote for Palin if she were on the top of the ticket.
"She’s a fresh, new face," Bowers told AFP. "She’s still offering hope for the Republican Party and I totally agree with her values. I love her."
Iowa is traditionally viewed as the kick-off presidential state with its first-in-the nation nominating caucuses.
The largely rural state gave Obama his first win in the Democratic nomination process and some have credited that win with building the momentum he needed to ultimately beat Hillary Clinton.
Spokespeople for McCain and Palin have denied that she’s eyeing a 2012 run for president, saying she made the Iowa appearance because they believe the race is much tighter than what some polls show.
"I think she’s focused on one thing and that’s moving to Washington with her family as vice president," said David Roederer, who chairs McCain’s campaign in Iowa.
The Alaskan governor and self-styled maverick stuck to her stump speech, lauding running mate John McCain and attacking Obama’s tax plans and leadership.
Palin told the crowd that Obama "has an ideological commitment to increase taxes" and hammered his national security credentials.
"They can fill a stadium but they cannot keep our country safe," Palin told the crowd of 5,000 enthusiastic supporters.
And she warned that Republicans are needed in Washington because the far left wing of the Democratic Party is "preparing to take over the entire federal government when you consider a monopolized, unchecked power of control in the House, the Senate and, God forbid, the White House."
But some in the crowd were not convinced by Palin’s 35-minute speech, much of which was devoted to bashing Obama.
Karen Husemeyer, for example, said the speech was like "an eighth grader talking to 7th graders."
"I’m not exactly impressed. I feel there was some fibbing in there," Husemeyer said.