JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — A day after John McCain tried to soften the rhetoric of his angry supporters toward Barack Obama, running-mate Sarah Palin described Obama as a pro-abortion radical, saying it's not negative or mean-spirited to talk about his record.
While on a bus tour of Pennsylvania, a key battleground state, Palin also spoke publicly for the first time about the outcome of an Alaska legislative investigation into the so-called "troopergate" affair.
She asserted that the probe proved she did nothing illegal or unethical despite its finding, released late Friday, that she abused her power in pushing for the firing of an Alaska State trooper who was once married to her sister.
"I don't micro-manage my commissioners and ask them to hire or fire anyone," Palin told reporters outside a service station in Altoona, Pa. "And thankfully the truth was revealed there in that report that showed there was no unlawful or unethical activity on my part."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Idaho Statesman
Under Alaska law, only the state's personnel board can rule on whether Palin violated ethics rules. The legislature's investigator, Stephen Branchflower, concluded that she did.
Speaking at a rally in a packed minor league hockey arena here, Palin accused Obama of consistently supporting abortion legislation as a legislator in Illinois and in Washington.
"In times like these with wars and financial crisis, I know it maybe easy to forget even as deep and abiding concern as a right to life, and it seems that our opponent will forget that," Palin told about 6,000 supporters in the arena. "He hopes he you won't notice how radical, absolutely radical, his ideas on this and his record is until it's too late."
She blasted Obama for not supporting so-called "Born Alive" bills in the Illinois legislature in 2001, 2002 and 2003. They would have defined any aborted fetus that showed signs of life as a "born alive infant" due legal protection, even if doctors thought the fetus could not survive.
Obama opposed the 2001 and 2002 measures because he believed they were backdoor attempts to undermine Roe v. Wade. Obama said he would have been "fully in support" of a similar federal "born alive" bill that President Bush signed in 2002, because it contained wording protecting legalized abortion, according to FactCheck.org, a non-partisan, non-profit watchdog Web site operated by the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center.
But Obama voted in committee against the 2003 version of the state bill that was almost identical the federal act with similar federal abortion protection clauses, FactCheck.org found.
Palin reminded the audience of a comment Obama made at a town hall meeting he held in Johnstown in March. Reacting to a question about HIV/AIDS, Obama said he backed a curriculum that includes abstinence and contraception.
"I've got two daughters - 9 years old and 6 years old," he told the town hall gathering. "I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby...So it doesn't make sense to not give them information."
"We called him on it," Palin told the crowd. "Americans need to see his record for what it is. "And, please, it is not negative, it is not mean-spirited, to talk about his record."
Palin's remarks about Obama provoked boos and at least one cry of "Killer" from the audience. The barrage came one day after McCain sought to quell rising anger among his supporters towards Obama at campaign events.
When a woman at a town hall meeting in Minnesota Friday called Obama an Arab, McCain took the microphone from her and told the crowd that his Democratic rival is a Christian.
"I have to tell you, he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States," McCain said to boos and groans from his supporters.
Obama took note of McCain's action and praised the Arizona senator at rally in Philadelphia.
"Sen. McCain tried to tone down the rhetoric yesterday, and I appreciate his reminder that we can disagree while still being respectful of each other," Obama told the crowd.
The crowd at Palin's Saturday rally wasn't as raucous or vitriolic as audiences at some recent McCain-Palin events. One man towards the rear of the arena occasionally shouted "Terrorists," "Throw (House of Representatives Speaker Nancy) Pelosi in Jail," or "Socialist."
The man, Toby Caudill of Shade Gap, Pa., said he was shouting because he's angry because he believes all "terrorist states support Obama."
"I'm angry because we're turning our country over to Socialists," said Caudill, 35. "Whenever you disagree with Obama, you're a racist. Why? Can't you disagree with the man?"