Palin supporters, detractors attend final Ohio rally

Chris Gates

VIEW a photo gallery of Palin’s visit to Lakewood.

A Republican candidate has never won the presidency without winning the state of Ohio.

Knowing that, Sen. John McCain and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin have concentrated their efforts on the state in the final weeks. Palin visited Lakewood yesterday morning and urged those in attendance to look at facts when casting their votes.

Taxes were a main target in Palin’s speech as she pointed out Sen. Barack Obama’s stance on the issue and how it has changed lately.

“It seems like every day we’re hearing a new definition of what middle class is – those who he promises not to slam with that tax increase he talks about,” she said. “First, remember it started off as, if you make $250,000 a year, you wouldn’t be hit with the tax increase. Then it dropped down to $200,000 a year, and then it dropped down to $150,000 a year.

“And then just the other day, blindly, we hear more through candidness . now it’s down to those making $120,000 and under.”

Palin continued, saying that now is the “worst time possible to even think about raising taxes” on the people and small businesses.

Her comments evoked passionate responses from attendees.

George M. Borato, an 86-year-old World War II veteran from Westlake, said what Palin will do, if elected, will be just what the country needs.

“I told my daughter Sherrie when I heard Palin the second time, ‘she just threw an atomic bomb out there.'” Borato said. “That’s how much this girl is going to shake things up. That’s how I picked her out, that she was going to be our savior. And she is.”

Along with the McCain and Palin supporters, there was a small contingent of residents in favor of Obama. The group started small before the event began but grew as the time for Palin to speak approached.

“So far it’s what we expected,” Ali Farunia said before Palin’s speech, a student at Cuyahoga Community College and Lakewood resident. “But then we have fellow supporters along with us. To tell you the truth, we’re not the only ones. There are other people here, and there’s going to be a lot more coming too.”

And come they did. More than 100 Obama supporters watched outside from behind fences as Palin spoke.

Ohio is just as important for the Democratic Party as it is for Republicans. Former President John F. Kennedy was the last Democrat to become president while losing the state in 1960 and is one of only two in history along with Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944.

Farunia said he didn’t feel as if Palin’s appearance would help the McCain campaign get the edge it needs to earn Ohio’s 20 electoral votes.

“I feel as if Obama’s on top enough,” he said. “Something like this, especially in a little city like Lakewood, I don’t feel as if it’s going to help much.

“I just feel, in my opinion, as if where their views and where their opinions are coming from are just completely different from where it is that the world needs today.”

The Obama supporters didn’t seem to influence any opinion, however, as the majority of the crowd was confident that McCain and Palin could win Ohio on Tuesday.

“I think it’s very important; I think they definitely have to do it,” Jonathan Vanarsdale from Lakewood said. “If she takes Ohio, and McCain does, then they have a good shot.”

Contact public affairs reporter Chris Gates at [email protected].