By Lois Romano and Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, September 15, 2008
ELYRIA, Ohio, Sept. 14 -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday made a pair of campaign stops in this important battleground for former rival Sen. Barack Obama, generating large, passionate crowds -- and barely mentioning Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
"This election is going to be a game changer," an energized Clinton (D-N.Y.) said. "We have the opportunity to go beyond the failed policies of the last eight years. I hear a lot of talk about this election, people asking, 'Who are you for?' That's not right question. The right question is: 'Who is for you?' "
Clinton mentioned Palin just twice in speeches here and in Akron, in one instance repeating an earlier line: "No way, no how, no McCain and no Palin."
Since the Republican convention, Clinton has pointedly avoided directly criticizing Palin as she campaigns for Obama (D-Ill.), a strategy endorsed by the Obama campaign. The goal, Obama campaign strategists said, is to refocus the race on Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and to avoid a clash between the two women. Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), who has been overshadowed since Palin's selection, is expected to add to that effort with sharper attacks against McCain this week.
Palin remained in the headlines on Sunday even as she spent the day in Denver without any public events. The Alaska governor has been spending her down time with McCain staffers and former aides to President Bush preparing for her next interview -- with conservative radio host Sean Hannity on Tuesday -- and for the vice presidential debate on Oct. 2.
McCain attended a NASCAR event in New Hampshire, where he met with drivers before the race. "Thank you for your support for the men and women in the military," McCain told the drivers. "When I'm in Iraq and Afghanistan, they're watching you. You are their role model."
Obama did not have any public events Sunday, but his campaign continued its recent effort to discredit both members of the Republican ticket. Obama aides mocked the McCain campaign after Palin on Friday misstated how much Alaska contributes to the national energy supply, a day after McCain said she "knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America."
Palin said Alaska provides 20 percent of the national supply, but the Obama campaign circulated an assessment by the nonpartisan FactCheck.org saying that that assertion is "not true, not even close," with Alaska providing 3.5 percent.
Both Obama and Palin will spend part of this week in a handful of Western battlegrounds. Obama will campaign in Grand Junction and Pueblo, Colo., on Monday and then has stops in New Mexico and Nevada, where Palin held a rally Saturday night. Obama plans to target Latino voters and women on his swing, while Palin has been emphasizing her kinship with the Western ethos.
At a campaign stop in Carson City, Nev., on Saturday night, Palin played up the lifestyle similarities between her state and Nevada. She mentioned that her husband, Todd, is a pilot, and that they named their third daughter Piper after his plane. She praised Chuck Yeager as the first pilot to break the sound barrier, adding that maybe now a woman can break another glass ceiling -- ascending to the second-highest office in the country. She noted that the event site was, at other times, a roller hockey rink.
"I think I'm looking at a whole lot of hockey moms for McCain here!" Palin said.
Campaigning on her own, Palin drew thousands to her appearance, though the crowd appeared to be well smaller than the 10,000 that Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian K. Krolicki declared were there. (A McCain campaign aide had said about 3,500 were expected.)
In Ohio, more than 1,000 supporters waited in line for hours to cram into the stuffy atrium of a community college to listen to Clinton, with hundreds more ushered into an overflow auditorium.
While supporters were mixed about whether Clinton should directly assail Palin's views on issues that affect women, they were adamant that no Clinton supporter would back Palin.
"They couldn't be more different," Barbara Price said. "It's important everyone know the facts, because the facts have to win out--and Hillary stands for working people and so does Obama."
Of course, Price added, Obama "would have had a better go of it had he picked Hillary for his running mate."
Staff writer Robert Barnes, traveling with McCain, contributed to this report.