McCain Supporters' Media Hostility; N-Word For Black Reporter

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[Election 2008]

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was on the campaign trail Tuesday, making the case to voters in the swing state of Florida that Sen. John McCain is the only one in the presidential race who will "solve our economic crisis and not exploit it."

At a rally in Jacksonville on Tuesday morning, McCain's running mate said he has "seen the corrupt ways of Washington and the wasteful spending and other abuses of power, and as president, I promise you, I'm going to help him do this. We're going to end those abuses."

"This is a moment when principles and political independence mean so much more than just a party line," she said. "He and I don't just talk about change; we're the only candidates in this race with a track record for actually making change happen."

Both McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, and his Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama, are off the campaign trail Tuesday as they prepare for the second presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee.

The town hall-style debate begins at 9 p.m. ET.

Palin's Democratic counterpart, Sen. Joe Biden, is also off the campaign trail as he deals with the death of his mother-in-law.
The Alaska governor offered a preview of the debate: "So tonight, the nation gets another look at the contrast. Tonight, it's town hall time, live, from Nashville. ... We'll see the difference between a politician who puts his faith in government and a leader who puts his faith in you."

Palin's stop Tuesday marks her second trip to Florida, a state that has been make-or-break for presidential candidates. Polls show the state, which has gone Republican in the past two presidential elections, leaning Obama's way.

A recent CNN/Time/Opinion Research Corporation poll of likely voters in Florida found Obama leading McCain, 51 percent to 47 percent.

The poll of 770 voters was taken September 28-30 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Palin also continued her attacks on Obama's ties to William Ayers, a former member of the radical 1960s and '70s group Weather Underground.

She recently accused the Illinois senator of "palling around with terrorists who would target their own country."

Shortly after, Obama's campaign released an ad quoting editorials that called McCain "erratic" and "out of touch."
On Monday, the Obama campaign released an online documentary criticizing McCain over his involvement in the Keating Five scandal of the 1980s.

Palin told the crowd Tuesday that she sees "a pattern in how our opponent has talked about one of his most troubling associations."

CNN producer Carey Bodenheimer reported Tuesday that at several recent rallies, Palin has stirred up crowds by mentioning the "liberal media." Routinely, there are boos at every mention of The New York Times and the "mainstream media," both of which are staples of Palin's stump speech.

Bodenheimer said some audience members are openly hostile to members of the traveling press covering Palin; one crowd member hurled a racial epithet at an African-American member of the press in Clearwater, Florida, on Monday.

Palin travels to North Carolina on Tuesday night, two days after she stumped in Nebraska, two reliably red states that haven't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in at least three decades. Her most recent travel schedule is the latest indication that Obama and the nation's ailing economy have put McCain on the defensive, even in states where the prospect of a Democratic win was unthinkable only four years ago.

The visit to North Carolina comes as most recent polls of the state show Obama and McCain running a close race there. A CNN/Time Magazine/Opinion Research Corporation poll of North Carolina last month showed the candidates dead even, but some recent polls have even suggested a slight Democratic lead.

Then there's the unknown variable of an anticipated rise in turnout in the African-American community. In 2006, that voting bloc made up 26 percent of North Carolina's electorate, with 85 percent voting for Sen. John Kerry. Obama is expected to win an even higher percentage of the black vote this cycle, with a higher expected turnout as well.

"The North Carolina of today is far more diverse than the North Carolina of 20 or even 10 years ago," CNN Senior Political Researcher Alan Silverleib said.

"The state's changing economy has attracted thousands of new voters willing to pull the lever for a Democratic nominee. Second, the state's sizable African-American voting bloc is extremely energized by Obama's candidacy. Third, the economic downturn has made Tar Heel voters -- just like voters in the rest of the country -- much more receptive to the Democratic message of change," Silverleib added.

Palin's appearance in the state comes more than five months after McCain held his last public event there, delivering a speech in early May at Wake Forest University on his vision for judicial appointments. The event came the same day as Indiana and North Carolina's Democratic primaries and was largely overshadowed by the battle between Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton for that party's nomination.

McCain-Palin spokesman Ben Porritt said Monday that the campaign remains confident the Republican ticket will carry the state. "This is a state that Barack Obama has put millions of dollars into," he said. "This is an opportunity to speak to our supporters there and makes sure they turn out."

Porritt declined to say whether McCain has any plans to visit North Carolina before Election Day.

Palin traveled to Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District on Sunday, prompting pundits to speculate that the McCain campaign is worried Obama could peel off an electoral vote there.

Nebraska, like Maine, awards its electoral votes by the winner of each congressional district, and the 2nd district -- which includes Omaha and its surrounding areas -- is the most Democratic.

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