SPRINGFIELD — Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Friday accused Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama of hiding his true intentions when it comes to tax policy, calling him "Barack the wealth-spreader."
Speaking to thousands of supporters in the parking lot of a sporting goods store, Palin said that Obama has tried to hide his support for wealth redistribution from voters. A significant part of Palin's roughly half-hour speech focused on contrasting the Democrat's economic and tax polices with those of the Republican ticket.
"He is hiding his real agenda of redistributing your hard-earned money," Palin said. "He says that he's for a tax credit, which is when government takes your money to give it away to someone else according to a politician's priorities. Now John and I, we're for a real tax cut, which is when the government just takes less of your earnings in the first place."
Obama, during a campaign stop in Indiana on Thursday, characterized McCain's tax approach as "putting corporations ahead of workers." McCain proposes cutting the corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent, while Obama would raise corporate taxes to help pay for tax cuts for those earning under $250,000 a year.
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., an Obama supporter, said during a Friday speech at Missouri State University in Springfield that both presidential candidates want to cut taxes. McCaskill said the difference in tax plans boils down to who will benefit.
"The only difference is who is going to get the tax cuts — people that are in the middle class or people who make millions of dollars a year," McCaskill said. "Now I don't understand why giving it to people who make millions of dollars a year is OK, but giving it to the middle class is somehow wrong. It doesn't make sense."
The venue for Palin's speech could hardly have been friendlier for the Alaska governor. Palin spoke from a platform beside the front doors of Bass Pro Shops before a friendly crowd in the heart of Missouri's Republican base. She even got familiar weather, with temperatures in the 40s and onlookers donning coats, winter gloves and blankets on a blustery day that threatened rain.
Missouri Republican gubernatorial candidate Kenny Hulshof, who spoke before Palin, joked that it shows how welcoming Missourians are.
"If Sen. McCain had been here, it would be 80 and balmy," Hulshof said. "Since we're welcoming the most popular governor in the country from Alaska, we thought we'd have the weather to welcome her."
The surroundings played into many of the speeches, including Palin's, who quipped at the beginning of her speech that she was running late because she had to be dragged out of the store. Later, she used the store's name — Bass Pro Shops — as a pitch to voters.
"Whether you're a bass pro or a regular Joe, you can help us reel in a big one Nov. 4," she said.
Palin was initially scheduled to speak from a university gymnasium, but the campaign pushed it outside so more people could watch. Four thousand tickets for the original site were quickly gobbled up, and the Springfield News-Leader reported that 20,000 spectators attended the rally Friday.
Campaigning for re-election in 2004, Vice President Dick Cheney and wife, Lynne, also traveled to the same Bass Pro Shops, where he shopped for fishing gear and shook hands with customers.
With Palin's visit Friday, all the presidential and vice presidential candidates have now made swings through southwest Missouri. Obama and McCain each made stops in Springfield before their national conventions and Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden recently capped a two-day tour through Missouri with a speech in a Springfield park.
Polls show that McCain and Obama are about even in Missouri. The swing-state accounts for 11 electoral votes and has voted for the presidential winner every time but once over the last century.
Palin started her day by telling attendees at a Pennsylvania rally that she would increase federal educational funding for families with children with special needs and help families get the most up-to-date treatment information. She repeated in Missouri a pledge to be an ally for the parents of children with special needs if elected.
Palin's son Trig was born with Down syndrome about six months ago.
Later Friday, Palin and her husband, Todd, gave depositions in St. Louis in an Alaska personnel board investigation over whether she wrongly fired the Alaska public safety commissioner. The commissioner says he was dismissed for refusing to fire Palin's former brother-in-law, a state trooper.