LEESBURG, Va. -- Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin told a cheering crowd Monday that Democrats would raise taxes and "punish hard work" if Virginia voters break a 44-year preference for GOP presidents and help send Barack Obama to the White House.
Palin, Republican John McCain's running mate, also tried to burnish her foreign policy credentials by meeting here with Israel's ambassador to the United States, apologizing for the session's delay.
"I look forward to hearing about your work with the Jewish Agency and all the plans that we have," Palin told Ambassador Sallai Meridor. "We'll be working together."
She was apparently referring to the Jewish Agency for Israel, an organization of which Meridor was formerly chairman.
Palin and Meridor discussed relations between the United States and Israel and the Iranian nuclear threat, Israeli embassy officials said. They added that Meridor also discussed ongoing peace efforts in the Middle East and noted that he was to talk with Palin's Democratic counterpart, Sen. Joe Biden, later Monday.
After meeting Meridor, Palin took a short bus ride through the tony Lansdowne development in Loudoun County -- a battleground county in Virginia and a neighborhood where Obama yard signs appeared to outnumber McCain signs -- to an enthusiastic rally that drew more than 5,000 supporters.
Palin was introduced to the crowd by Tito Munoz, a small business owner from neighboring Prince William County, whom Palin referred to as "Tito the Builder." He wore a yellow hard hat and drew chants of "Tito, Tito."
Political coverage from NBC4.
Palin portrayed Obama as "on the side of bigger, more controlling government" and warned that an Obama White House would leave the Democratic agenda in Congress unchecked.
"If big government spenders control the House and Senate and, heaven forbid, the White House, they will have a monopoly of power," she said.
"You understand that his plan to redistribute wealth will, ultimately, punish hard work, and it discourages productivity, and it will stifle the entrepreneurial spirit that made this country the greatest country on earth."
Obama has proposed tax increases for workers who make more than $250,000 a year and tax cuts for the remaining 95 percent of workers and their families.
Palin's three-city tour through the Old Dominion was designed to upend Obama's lead in a state that hasn't voted for a Democratic president since 1964. Recent polls show Obama ahead in Virginia, home to the Confederate capital during the Civil War, and Democrats are on track to add to their congressional majorities.
At a later stop Monday in Fredericksburg, Palin appeared before thousands of supporters who began to arrive hours before gates opened to spectators. An overflow crowd watched Palin's address broadcast on a large screen.
She again criticized Democratic tax proposals. "You know they're coming after you folks," Palin told the crowd as rain began to fall.