McCain, Palin Campaign In Missouri

Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin campaigned in Missouri and touched on many of the same points made at the GOP convention. McCain indirectly talked about the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, criticizing it as a bailout.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block. We begin this hour with politics. The conventions are over, and now, it's a sprint to November. John McCain's performance last week, as well as his pick of running mate Sarah Palin, have given him a substantial bump. Most new polls show the race tied or McCain ahead slightly.

Both campaigns are on the road today. Barack Obama visited Michigan, while running mate Joe Biden was in Wisconsin. McCain and Palin stumped together in Missouri. Even Hillary Clinton got in on the act, rallying Obama supporters in Florida.

Coming up, we'll hear from NPR's Greg Allen, who's traveling with Senator Clinton, but first, to NPR's Don Gonyea, who's with the McCain-Palin campaign in Missouri. Hi, Don.

DON GONYEA: Hi, there.

BLOCK: And it looks like both John McCain and Sarah Palin are enjoying a boom of support since the convention last week. They're filling bigger and bigger spaces. Are they hitting on the same themes that they hit on during the convention?

GONYEA: This really seems like a mini version of the convention. We're getting the exact same content, except in abridged form. Sarah Palin comes out kind of playing the role of the support act whose job it is to steal the show every night. She gives about a 12-minute version of her much longer convention speech. Then Senator McCain comes out, and he delivers his stump speech - again, very much like his convention acceptance speech, but the 16-minute-long version.

And they're touching all the same key points, lots of criticism of Senator Obama, talk of hockey moms and mavericks and shaking up Washington, and lots of chanting from the crowd - you know, straight talk; Sarah, Sarah, Sarah; and drill, baby, drill.

BLOCK: Now, some of the claims that the candidates have been making, the Republican candidates, have been fact-checked and found either fuzzy, if not outright wrong. Are they making those same claims on the stump?

GONYEA: Word for word, they're coming out today. In fact, let's listen to Governor Palin talking about that famous bridge to nowhere. Give a listen.

Governor SARAH PALIN (Republican, Alaska, 2008 Republican Vice Presidential Nominee): I championed earmark reform. You're going to hear about this from the senator, to stop Congress from wasting public money on things that don't serve the public interest. I told Congress thanks, but no thanks for that bridge to nowhere. If our state wanted to build a bridge, we would build it ourselves.

(Soundbite of crowd applauding)

GONYEA: What she didn't say at the convention, what she didn't say today is that she was a long, strong supporter of that so-called bridge to nowhere. It was only after it was effectively killed that she decided she was against it. The money, more than $200 million, did still go to Alaska and was spent.

BLOCK: Don, with the news this weekend of the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, did John McCain and Sarah Palin spend much time talking about the economy?

GONYEA: They talked about the economy, but Senator McCain really only kind of indirectly talked about the Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac bailout. He said, here we are; we have a government restructuring of our home-lending institutions. He said, obviously, people want to stay in their homes. We need to help people stay in their homes, but he said that we can't have this be a bailout of Wall Street speculators and irresponsible executives. That was greeted with big cheers. But really, it's hard to tell exactly what he feels about the announcement regarding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac based on that.

BLOCK: Don, do John McCain and Sarah Palin continue to campaign together, or is the plan that Sarah Palin will peel off on her own?

GONYEA: They've already gone beyond the point where they were supposed to break off, but she is drawing such crowds. They clearly enjoy one another's company, and it is energizing the campaign and voters, especially in swing states. I'm talking to you from Missouri.

But we do know she's going to get back to Alaska tomorrow night, we believe, and then she'll resume some sort of a campaign schedule on her own. But I'm sure, occasionally, they will be coming together like this over the course of the next 57 days.

BLOCK: OK, Don. Thanks very much.

GONYEA: All right. Thank you.

BLOCK: That's NPR's Don Gonyea traveling with the McCain-Palin campaign in Missouri.

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