McCain rallies supporters in La Crosseby Sea Stachura, Minnesota Public Radio,
Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
La Crosse, Wis. — Some 5,000 people filled the La Crosse Center South Hall to hear Republican presidential candidate John McCain speak this morning.
Wisconsin is one of the states that both parties consider up for grabs in this November's election.
McCain proposed suspending a rule regarding 401(k) and IRA retirment funds in order to help people who will soon retire.
"The current rules mandate that investors must begin to sell off their IRA 401(k)s when they reach 70 and a half. To spare investors from being forced to sell off their stocks at just the time when the market is hurting the most, those rules should be suspended," McCain said.
McCain spent most of his speech attacking Democrat Barack Obama's tax and spending plans. He claimed they would increase taxes on small businesses.
McCain stressed the importance of winning Wisconsin and its 10 electoral votes at this morning's rally.
"It's tough, and we're going to come from behind as we have in the past. How many times have the pundits written off the McCain campaign? We're gonna fool them again. We're gonna fool them one more time."
While anger at the idea of a Barack Obama presidency has been the tone at previous John McCain rallies, people at this morning's rally seem relatively calm.
Crystal Hoeg just turned 18 years old, and said she got tickets to the rally through her high school. Hoeg said her parents' support for John McCain sparked her own interest in his candidacy.
She said there is something she doesn't trust about Democratic candidate Barack Obama.
A few other supporters say they like McCain's military history and his years in Congress.
Dean and Nancy Wetzel said they have been to several Republican party rallies. They both said that McCain's Christian values reassure them. Dean Wetzel said he appreciates McCain's foreign experience.
"If something were to happen with terrorism, I believe he has the ability to quickly make decisions in a time of peril," Wetzel said.
In Waukesha, Wis. yesterday, McCain supporters booed and held up their middle fingers when Obama's name was mentioned.
The Wetzels and others said they are not angry about the idea of an Obama presidency, but they do not believe the polls that show Obama ahead of McCain.
Nonetheless, as the rally began supporters started to boo any mention of Barack Obama.
McCain will hold a town hall forum in Lakeville at 4 p.m. today. It will be his second campaign stop in Minnesota since he accepted the Republican nomination last month.
The McCain campaign is spending both time and money with the hopes of having him be the first Republican presidential candidate to win Minnesota since 1972.
He's scheduled to spend more than $2 million in television ads in the Twin Cities market. A spokesman said the campaign is also opening more offices and adding staff.
Democrat Barack Obama's campaign is also investing time and money in the state. Obama is running television ads in the Twin Cities market and has said he will make a campaign stop in Minnesota between now and Election Day.
In the meantime, Obama's wife, Michelle, will campaign in the Twin Cities and Rochester on Monday.
Sea Stachura has reported from Minnesota Public Radio's Rochester bureau since 2005.