VIENNA, Ohio (CNN) – With a strong anti-NAFTA sentiment and a heavy union presence, the Mahoning Valley in northeast Ohio isn’t exactly prime Republican territory.
But that’s exactly where John McCain and Sarah Palin took their road show on Tuesday, hoping to steal some votes from Barack Obama in a region of the state where Hillary Clinton reigned supreme during the Ohio Democratic primary.
“We’re making that foray,” said one campaign adviser. “It’s good to play offense.”
Introducing McCain for the first time since she traveled to Alaska last week, Palin kept the focus on jobs and the economy as Wall Street woes dominated the headlines for the second straight day. She laid into the Democratic ticket, accusing Obama of wanting to raise payroll taxes, business taxes, investment income taxes and the estate tax.
“Here’s a little straight talk for our opponent,” Palin said, using her running mate’s signature phrase.
“His tax plans really would kill jobs and hurt small businesses and make even today’s bad economy look like the good old days.”
Palin's claims aren't exactly accurate: Obama would maintain the Bush tax cuts and offer tax breaks to individuals making under $250,000 a year. According to the non-partisan Center for Tax Policy, Obama’s tax plan would offer greater tax relief than McCain's for low and middle-income earners, but McCain's plan would lower the tax burden more across the board.
As she did in Colorado on Monday, Palin linked the campaign's economic pitch to her small town roots.
“Our family, like your families, we know that the best way to help small businesses is for government to take less from them, leave more for them so that they can expand and create jobs,” Palin said. “It's a pretty simple principle.”
Several voters in the audience said they were supporting McCain and Palin because they favor lower taxes.
Joyce Kish, an elementary school teacher's aide who attended the rally with her three sisters-in-law, said taxes and employment are her top issues in the election. She said the Valley was suffering from the loss of manufacturing jobs, and that the two Republicans on stage had the managerial experience to fix the economy. All four women said they were adamantly opposed to abortion rights.
When Palin finished her introduction of McCain, scores of voters soon proceeded to file out of the venue, one more sign that the Alaska governor is the force behind the ballooning crowds that have turned out for McCain in recent weeks.