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Republicans Compose a New Way of Campaigning

The Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, says in Grand Rapids, Mich., that her running mate, Sen. John McCain, is the best choice for president.
The Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, says in Grand Rapids, Mich., that her running mate, Sen. John McCain, is the best choice for president. (By Stephan Savoia -- Associated Press)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 20, 2008; Page A06

GREEN BAY, Wis., Sept. 19 -- Gov. Sarah Palin strode past a row of American flags wearing a serious black business suit, her early-morning role to introduce John McCain for a somber speech about the crisis on Wall Street.

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"Holy moly!" Palin said at the meeting of the local chamber of commerce on Friday, recalling a campaign pep rally held in the adjacent hockey arena the night before. "That event here, nothing could beat that. That was just amazing!"

McCain, the 72-year-old Washington veteran, and Palin, the 44-year-old first-term governor from the Last Frontier, already look different from any other presidential ticket in history, and as they toured the Midwest this week, they seemed to be forging a new way of campaigning, as well.

She was greeting-card warmth -- "Michigan, I feel your heart" -- to his populist rage against the greed of Wall Street. Together, they each said, they are "a couple of mavericks who are going to shake up" the establishment.

"He's the only great man in the race," Palin says.

He replies: "It's a great pleasure to be introduced by Governor Sarah Palin -- and I can't wait to introduce her to Washington, D.C."

The Alaska governor's introduction to the national stage has moved slowly -- two network interviews, no news conferences, no access for the reporters who travel with her. But her impact on the campaign trail has been immediate: bigger crowds, more women -- and more protests.

At a huge rally in Blaine, Minn., later on Friday, she waded gingerly into foreign policy and talked about a now-canceled rally protesting Iran's nuclear ambitions at which both she and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton were once scheduled to speak.

"Unfortunately, some Democrat partisans put politics first, and now no public officials will be allowed to appear at that Stop Iran rally," she said, not mentioning that Clinton canceled when she found Palin had been invited.

"I will continue to call for sustained action to prevent Iranian President Ahmadinejad from getting these weapons that he wants for a second holocaust," Palin said.

More often, she provides a folksy counterpart to McCain and has proved a magnet for female voters, who sometimes wave lipstick tubes, a reference to her off-the-cuff comment during her acceptance speech that the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is lipstick. "Read my lipstick" is a best-selling button at campaign events.

While presidential tickets usually split up to cover more ground, McCain likes having Palin along, and they held rallies this week in Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, as well as their first joint town hall meeting in Grand Rapids, Mich., Wednesday night.

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