STERLING HEIGHTS — The day after John McCain accepted the Republican nomination, he and running mate Sarah Palin made a stop in Michigan to give speeches similar to those the pair gave at their party’s convention.


As Palin introduced McCain, the 10,000-member crowd at the Freedom Hill Amphitheater cheered and applauded at nearly every line – especially the jabs at Barack Obama.

“Among politicians, there is the idealism of endless talk about great things, and then there is the idealism of leaders like John McCain who actually do great things,” she said.

Sterling Heights, a city in southwestern Macomb County, is the type of Michigan community the presidential candidates are vying for — a Detroit suburb with middle class, blue-collar residents struggling to fill their gas tanks and make mortgage payments. Historically, the town has been divided fairly evenly. In 2004, more straight-ticket voters voted Democratic by an eight-percent margin, but George W. Bush won the city with 51 percent of the vote — 4 percent more than Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

To set the tone, Palin cited McCain’s service in the Vietnam War and time as a POW and his reputation as a “maverick” in the Senate as evidence of his willingness to defend them as president — while also criticizing Obama.

“Our opponents have been going on quite a bit lately, about how they always quote, ‘fight for you,'” Palin said. “But since Sen. McCain won’t say this on his own behalf, let me say it. There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you and that man is John McCain.”

The majority of McCain’s speech was dedicated to his energy policies and a promise of United States energy independence in 10 years. He called energy an economic, environmental and national security issue.

When McCain promised the audience, “we’ll drill new wells offshore and we’ll drill now,” the amphitheater broke out into a raucous chant of “Drill, baby, drill.”

McCain chuckled in response: “I don’t know who thought of that one, but that’s a great one.”

McCain promised to increase the number of nuclear power plants in the country, as well as the use of wind, tide, solar and natural gas as energy sources. He also said he would encourage the development and use of flex fuel, hybrid and electric automobiles.

McCain said the technology will create millions of new jobs. The Republican nominee gave the crowd “some straight talk” as he spoke briefly on the topic of the economy.

“These are tough times for many of you,” McCain said. “In the state of Michigan, times are tough. You’re worried about keeping your job or finding a new one. Many are struggling to put food on the table or even stay in their home.”

When he explained his economic plan, he criticized Obama’s point for point.

“I’ll keep taxes low and cut them where I can. My opponent will raise them. I’ll open new markets for goods and services. My opponent will close them. I’ll cut government spending, he’ll increase it. My tax cuts will create jobs, his raises will eliminate them,” McCain said.

Brady Smith, chair of the College Republicans at the University, said he was excited by the event Saturday. He said he was glad to hear McCain outline his economic and energy plans, which he said would open up opportunities for the state.

“McCain is going to invest in the private sector,” Smith said. “He’s going to invest in folks that create jobs and he’s going to invest in the middle class. Barack Obama is going to invest in government. It’s time that we invested in people, rather than government.”

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