Palin: Election isn't over till it's over

By: MITCH STACY and MARK WANGRIN, Associated Press Writers
By: MITCH STACY and MARK WANGRIN, Associated Press Writers

TAMPA, Fla. – Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin had a pointed message Sunday for Barack Obama: This thing isn't over yet.

Palin said the Democratic presidential nominee was acting as if he's already won the election and had already written his inaugural address.

"Barack Obama and I both have spent quite some time on the basketball court," Palin told a raucous crowd of more than 5,000 at the convention center. "But where I come from, you have to win the game before you start cutting down the net."

Nine days before the election, Palin was making another push to sway voters in the battleground state of Florida, where polls show Republican nominee John McCain trails Obama in the fight for the state's 27 electoral votes. The Interstate 4 corridor between Tampa to Orlando, where Palin was concentrating her efforts Sunday, is where most of the state's undecided voters live. It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency.

"You kinda get the feeling that the Obama campaign thinks this whole election process is just a formality," she said. "They've overlooked, though, the minor detail of earning your confidence and your trust and winning your vote.

"And judging from the media coverage, it does seem the coronation is already set," Palin said.

Obama's campaign said the claim that he has written an inaugural address is "completely false." Spokesman Bill Burton said the reference to an address came from a New York Times report Saturday that former White House chief of staff John D. Podesta had written a draft inaugural speech for Obama and included it in a recent book. Burton said Podesta wrote it as a sample address, not for Obama but for whoever became the nominee.

Palin also addressed the recent reports that the Republican Party spent $150,000 on clothes and accessories for her and her family for the campaign.

"This whole thing with the wardrobe, I try to just ignore it because it's so ridiculous," Palin said.

"Those clothes, they are not my property, just like the lighting and the staging and everything else the RNC purchased," she said. "I'm not taking them with me. I'm back to wearing my old clothes from my favorite consignment shop in Anchorage, Alaska."

On Sunday, a McCain spokesman said about a third of the clothes were returned, and the rest would be donated to charity.

Palin talked about her accessories Sunday: earrings that were a gift from her husband's Yup'ik Eskimo mother, and "a $35 wedding ring from Hawaii that I bought myself. Because with my ring, I always thought, it's not what it's made of, it's what it represents."

Palin continued her criticism of an Obama economic plan that she says amounts to socialism, characterizing him as "Barack the wealth-spreader." She vowed that McCain would allow people to keep more of their money, and accused Obama of not telling the whole truth about what she said are his plans to redistribute wealth.

Later, at a rally before about 7,000 in Kissimmee, Palin said: "Florida, you have a choice between a politician who puts his faith in government and a leader who puts his faith in you. There's only one man in this race who's always fought for you, and that's John McCain."

Palin singled out a man holding a sign that read "Joe the Filmmaker," a play on the Ohio plumber who gained national attention for confronting Obama on his tax plans.

"Don't say I didn't warn you," Palin joked. "If you see a group of media in your driveway waiting to attack you, I apologize."

At both stops Palin was joined on stage by her husband, Todd, and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. She was introduced by Elizabeth Hasselbeck, a co-host of the ABC talk show "The View" who often spars about politics with her more liberal mates on the set.

"Let me be honest, I was pretty much excited to talk for a full five minutes without getting interrupted," Hasselbeck joked with both crowds.

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