CLEVELAND - Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said more than one person has whispered in her ear in Ohio that John McCain needs "to take the gloves off" in his campaign against Democrat Barack Obama. Before a friendly crowd of Republican fundraisers Friday, the Alaska governor did that herself.
Palin said Obama was exploiting the economic crisis for political gain, "instead of trying to find solutions and work together to deal with it."
She also accused Obama of proposing a trillion dollars in new government spending without explaining where that money will come from.
"Media, don't know why they're not asking him: 'Where is that money gonna come from?'" she said. "He's got to raise taxes."
Obama has said his new spending will be paid for by ending President Bush's tax cuts for the 5 percent of Americans who make more than $250,000 a year, savings from withdrawing U.S. combat forces from Iraq and greater government efficiency. He pledges tax cuts for those making less than $200,000 a year.
Speaking to about 200 supporters in a ballroom at The Ritz-Carlton in downtown Cleveland — her second fundraiser of the day in hard-fought Ohio — Palin defended the Republican campaign's effort this week to ask the public and media to take a closer look at Obama and his associations.
"With only 25 days to go, it's not negative and it's not mean-spirited," she said.
Palin led a campaign rally in Wilmington in southwest Ohio on Thursday, and attended a fundraiser Friday morning at a private home in the upscale Cincinnati suburb of Indian Hill.
In Cleveland, she immediately turned folksy, telling the cheering crowd to sit down and keep eating.
"We'll just be a big happy family here, just like my own family," Palin said.
Palin also cited a disputed report, first in the New York Post and in Friday's editions of the Washington Times, that said Obama tried to influence negotiations with Iraqi leaders.
"If it is true, what Barack Obama attempted to do there, it is a stunning example of putting ambition before country," she said to applause.
Obama and the lawmakers who accompanied him to Baghdad have said the reports are not true.
"This ridiculous charge is completely false, and has been disputed by independent fact-checkers and bipartisan members of Congress. Barack Obama's consistent position is simply that any agreement about our long-term troop presence in Iraq must be reviewed by the United States Congress to ensure bipartisan support from the American people," said Obama spokesman Tom Reynolds.
Palin was greeted by protesters at both Friday stops. There were at least 20 when she arrived in Cleveland, with one holding a sign that read, "Like Bush's economy? Hire McCain."
The group chanted "Bush-McCain! More of the same!"
Earlier in Indian Hill, a few neighbors stood along the street to greet Palin with supportive posters and American flags. About a dozen protesters gathered nearby wearing "Joe Six-pack" nametags and holding empty beer cans.
Palin has said she appeals to "Joe Six-pack," meaning everyday people who buy beer.