LOVELAND — Thousands of attendants crowded into the Budweiser Events Center Monday afternoon to listen as Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin rallied the Colorado Republican constituency and made promises to cut small business taxes, promote smart energy reform and spread the wealth among hardworking Americans.
Palin said that the people’s choice for president is getting “clearer” as the nation approaches Election Day on Nov. 4 and that voters need to elect the candidates who will “spread opportunity for all Americans” and “put government back on the side of the people.”
“It’s going to come down to the wire and be a close race. It’s going to come down to what we believe in,” Palin said. “America is not the problem; America is the solution.”
The Road to Victory Rally was Palin’s first visit to northern Colorado.
Families with small children, flocks of politically charged women with posters reading “Real girls wear lipstick” and “Victory in Colorado, Country First” joined a range of student populations — from elementary to college-aged — in support of the Alaska governor.
A mesh of Republican candidates and officials preceded Palin’s speech with words of encouragement to vote for what Sen. Wayne Allard said was the “most accomplished and most experienced” presidential team.
“Our candidate stands head and shoulders above that other guy on the side freedom and liberty,” said Bob Schaffer, a Republican incumbent in the Colorado Senate race. “If you love your children and want them to succeed like I do, then you need a president that will stand with them, and John McCain will do that.”
Before Palin hit the stage at 1:15 p.m., those who were fortunate enough to clench a V.I.P. ticket clustered around the base of the stage, waving signs and discussing the meaning of the experience and the opportunity to see Palin.
“I’m really open-minded,” said Aaron Anaya, a freshman business and construction management double-major. “I’m trying to see if Sarah Palin can convince me to vote Republican.”
“She’s the epitome of a conservative; she has great values that appeal to the middle class and caters to people like those in Colorado,” Anaya said.
Palin was cheered onto the stage when the event began, accompanied by members of her family.
After reiterating the Republican campaign promises, she jabbed at the economic and social policies of Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama and his running mate Sen. Joe Biden, and said, “Now is not the time to experiment with socialism,” in response to Sen. Barack Obama’s plan to redistribute wealth throughout the nation.
Palin said that the people of America – “the Joe plumbers” and “Joe teachers,” the “hard-working Americans” – have to vote the “maverick of the Senate” into office in order to lower income taxes, confront the $10 trillion dollar national debt and develop new sources of energy.
At the rally’s conclusion, as Palin and her family remained on stage to sign autographs and pose for photos for her political fans, Anaya said he was convinced.
“They’re definitely going to get my vote,” Anaya said, smiling. “The whole ‘Joe plumber’ thing really put Obama in a predicament. I don’t want to come out of college with less money than my hard work was worth.”
Officials said attendance levels at the rally exceeded expectations, and security had to turn people away when they closed the doors at about 12:30 p.m. While they did not have an exact count, they said that the actual number of people in attendance surpassed the original estimate of 10,000.
Senior Reporter Madeline Novey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.