DOVER, N.H. (AP) – Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin said Wednesday she feels a kinship with the moose-hunting, tax-hating voters of New Hampshire who gave John McCain his first primary victory.

At the first of three rallies, the Alaska governor said New Hampshire’s state motto, “Live Free or Die,” would be a good motto for her state.

“You’re a lot like the people of Alaska. We all love good moose hunting, I know that. We both so enjoy our great lands, with clean water, fresh air and abundant wildlife and good fishing. We love being outdoors, and I know that is New Hampshire also,” she said. “And we both take seriously your state’s motto – I think it should be ours also – ‘Live Free or Die.”‘

Alaska’s state motto is “North to the Future.”

New Hampshire and Alaska are the only two states with neither a general income nor a general sales tax, and Palin played up that history in repeating her argument that Democratic nominee Barack Obama would raise taxes.

McCain proposes extending all of President Bush’s tax cuts; Obama would raise income taxes on families making more than $250,000 and individuals making more than $200,000 and has proposed $80 billion in tax breaks mainly for poor workers and the elderly.

“Here in Dover, there’s home to two kinds of people: the fine people of New Hampshire, and the fine people of Massachusetts who got sick of paying all those taxes,” Palin said. “That should tell you something.”

Palin was making her first trip to the state that launched McCain to the GOP presidential nomination but where he now trails Obama in polls. About 1,000 people turned out for her first rally at Dover High School.

After her Dover speech, Palin went outside to speak briefly to a crowd of people who couldn’t get into to the gymnasium. Holding a microphone in one hand and her son Trig in the other, she addressed someone who appeared to be heckling her.

“Sir, I don’t know what you’re saying, but if you’re protesting, that’s cool, too,” she said. “My son’s over in Iraq fighting for your right to protest.”

Several protestors stood outside the school when Palin arrived. One sign read: “Welcome to New Hampshire. Abuse is offensive. So are you.” But cheering fans far outnumbered Palin’s critics. At several points along the 60-mile route between her first and second stops, supporters stood along the road to snap pictures of her bus and wave, some holding up “Palin Power” bumper stickers.

At an outside rally in Laconia, Palin was introduced by Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., who is in a tight race with former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, the Democrat he defeated six years ago.

“I’m the youngest member of the United States Senate, but I still have more experience than Barack Obama,” said the 44-year-old Sununu.

Palin acknowledged Obama’s lead in New Hampshire, but she predicted a comeback.

“Granted, we’re coming from behind, but it can be done,” she said, reminding the crowd that many counted McCain out months before the pivotal primary.

“You all you went to the voting booth and you turned the underdog into the victor. Let’s do it again on November 4th,” she said.


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