(MILWAUKEE) - John McCain and Sarah Palin were about halfway through a town hall meeting here when a man in the audience rose to be heard.
"I'm mad! I'm really mad!" he shouted. "And what's gonna surprise you, it's not the economy. It's the Socialists taking over our country."
The crowd of several thousand erupted in thunderous cheers, as if many of their most underlying concerns had finally been verbalized.
The man's righteous anger set the tone for Palin, who fully embraced her role as the Republican ticket's attack dog. Palin seemed to question Barack Obama's character repeatedly and slammed his judgment on hot-button issues like abortion, calling on voters to hold the mainstream media accountable for failing to challenge the Democrat's truthfulness.
Palin seemed to feed off the questions, many of which were filled with vitriol toward Obama and the Democrats. In her answer to a question about her energy policy, Palin seemed to take offense to any suggestion that she might be considered "green."
"It's time that we start utilizing those also, and then Americans have — we've got to conserve also — and I kind of sometimes may be come across sounding a little bit green on that one," Palin said. "No, we have got to conserve and we've gotten sort of spoiled here, America, but as we wean ourselves off the hydrocarbons and someday off some of these products made by petroleum."
When an audience member lamented that Tom Brokaw "cleverly" did not bring up the issue of abortion at the last presidential debate, McCain reaffirmed his pro-life position but also extended an olive branch to those on the other side of the issue, saying, "We have to show compassion and courage to any young woman who is undergoing this very difficult situation."
Palin was more direct in wielding the verbal hatchet against Obama.
"And I appreciate your reminder of the compassion needed in this issue," she said. "What I don't find compassionate is Barack Obama's vote as an Illinois senator, when three times he had the chance to vote to be able to provide health care for a child who was born alive as a result of a botched abortion."
When a woman rose to take issue with hate crimes legislation, calling it an effort to "silence our freedom of speech," McCain responded that although he couldn't divine the intentions of a criminal, he would make sure that any hate crime "should have swift and sure justice rendered."
Following up on McCain's answer, Palin ignored the issue of hate crimes and praised McCain for defending free speech as a Naval aviator.
"Oh, yeah, the first thought that pops into my head also when you're talking about rights, and you're talking about freedoms is, we're talking about Senator John McCain and what he has done for our country, in putting his country first his entire life to fight for freedoms," she said. "And Wisconsin, here again kudos to you, your great Wisconsin Guard, about a third of your troops will be over in a war zone, in a number of months, in '09. You guys are going to be over there again helping to defend freedom, and defend liberty and the democratic liberties that we all cherish so much."