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Palin Speaks To 7,500 At Penn State Rally

This story was written by Mandy Hofmockel, Daily Collegian
Moments after "Zombie Nation" played a second time in Penn State University's Rec Hall Tuesday night, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her husband Todd emerged onstage to a gymnasium filled with about 7,500.

Cheers and whistles overwhelmed the candidate's thanks from the lectern as the crowd waved "Country First" signs and clapped loudly.

Before Palin delivered her speech to the energetic crowd, she asked Hank Williams Jr., a country music singer, to sing "McCain-Palin Tradition," a politically charged version of his song "Family Tradition."

"It is so good to be here on the campus tonight that Joe Paterno calls home," Palin said to her audience.

She said those present know the value of a "seasoned leader with experience," likening Paterno to Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Palin spent much of her speech addressing economic plans, including that of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

When she said Obama wants to spread Americans' wealth the gym booed at the mention of the opposition.

"[Obama] thinks it's your job to earn the wealth and it's his job to spread it around," she said.

Americans are experiencing tough economic times and need a tough president, she said.

Palin said the Republican ticket's economic plan involves helping people keep their houses by cleaning up the corruption and greed on Wall Street that caused the housing crisis.

The candidate also promised to help students afford college and the audience responded with applause.

Palin said speaking about Obama's voting record is not "mean spirited" and she does so in fairness to voters.

"Sen. Obama has an ideological commitment to higher taxes," she said. "You just have to look at his record."

A member of the crowd called loudly, "What record?!"

Palin responded to the call, saying "Maybe you should get up here and help me out."

She referred to her running mate as a "maverick," saying "Let's put the maverick of the Senate in the White House."

She turned around and pointed to eight men standing on the upper level of Rec Hall behind her. Members of the College Republicans had painted their chests blue and spelled out "M-A-V-E-R-I-C-K" in white and their backs read "W-E-[heart]-P-A-L-I-N".

Alex Smith, College Republicans chairman, was among those who painted their chests at the rally.

He said the group's appearance brought more attention than a regular sign would and it was done to catch Palin's attention.

"I guess we were successful in our attempt there," he said.

The event was great, Smith said, adding that he thought people would be more motivated to volunteer at the "Victory Center" downtown and get their friends out to the polls come Election Day.

Signs, blue and white pom poms and Thunder Stix, inflatable plastic sticks that make loud noise when struck together, were distributed to attendees, who made use of them often as Palin spoke.

Gigi Kaluzny, of Lock Haven, got tickets to the event from a friend so she could see the candidate live for the first time.

Kaluzny said she was won over during Palin's acceptance speech and the candidate is an intelligent woman.

"We don't need some bubblehead," she said.