GOLDEN, Colo. (AP) - Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said Monday she would concentrate on energy, government reform and helping families with special needs children if Republicans win the White House this fall, and drew cheers when she said, "too often government is the problem" rather than the solution.
Campaigning on her own, the Alaska governor also said Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama "wants to raise income taxes and raise payroll taxes and raise investment income taxes and raise business taxes and raise the death tax.
"But John McCain and I know that's not the way you grow the economy," she added.
In fact, independent groups such as the Tax Policy Center have concluded that four out of five U.S. households would receive tax cuts under Obama's proposal, which include higher income and payroll taxes only for the wealthiest wage-earners.
McCain's selection of Palin a little over two weeks ago has brought renewed enthusiasm to his campaign, particularly among conservatives who have long been wary of him. Yet the governor, with little experience outside her own state, has largely been kept out of public view while aides seek to bring her up to date on a range of issues.
The current trip is her first outside her home state without McCain, and the schedule was relatively light, with only a speech in Colorado and a fundraiser in Ohio. The governor has had only one substantive media interview since joining the ticket, and she and her husband, Todd, ignored reporters' shouted questions throughout the day.
Aides went to unusual lengths to maintain her privacy aboard her chartered campaign jet, pulling a curtain across the center aisle to separate the Palins and their top aides from the rest of the passengers.
Appearing before an enthusiastic crowd in swing-state Colorado, Palin struck populist themes. She said that as governor of Alaska she had broken "the old oil monopoly that had controlled" the state, and eliminated the "good-ol'-boys network of lobbyists and special interests" once in power.
She also referred to her time as mayor of Wasilla in terms that echoed former President Reagan, a hero to many conservatives.
"We became part of the fastest growing area of the state because businesses wanted to be there," she said. "They also knew that they would have elected leaders knowing that government isn't always the answer. In fact, too often government is the problem."
Presenting her credentials as a reformer, she told her audience that she had told Congress "thanks, but no thanks" when it came to the so-called Bridge to Nowhere, designed to link a small Alaskan village with the mainland. She made no mention of the fact that she favored federal funding for the structure before she turned against it.
She also said, without elaboration, that "too often, the government gets in the way when innovators take on cancer or Parkinson's or Alzheimers.
"To help Americans overcome these terrible diseases, our administration will lead efforts to find new treatments and cures," said Palin. The governor did not mention embryonic stem cell research, which many advocates say holds the key to treatment or even cures of numerous diseases. Palin, along with many other conservatives, oppose federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. McCain's campaign is currently airing a radio commercial that indicates support for an expansion of the federal involvement in stem cell research.
The speech was the first time Palin has indicated what role McCain might give her in his administration.
She said Alaska has nearly 20 percent of the nation's supply of oil and gas and said her job as vice president would be to help McCain, "implement his 'all of the above' strategy for energy independence."
She also said she would play a role in an effort to reform government.
"I've got another idea that I think Senator McCain likes. In Alaska, we took the state checkbook and put it online, so everyone can see where their money goes. We're going to bring that kind of openness to Washington," she said.
In fact, there already is a searchable database that allows the public to track federal grants and contracts, and Obama was a principle force behind the 2006 law that created it, along with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act is one of Obama's few legislative accomplishments in his short Senate tenure.