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Palin to field voters' questions for first time

  • Story Highlights
  • John McCain, Sarah Palin to hold open forum on Wednesday
  • Palin will answer questions for the first time in a campaign event
  • Her solo campaign appearances last week were tightly controlled
  • Palin says she wants to focus on energy, reform in White House role
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From Dana Bash
CNN Correspondent
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GOLDEN, Colorado -- After several joint campaign appearances with Sen. John McCain, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin ventured off last week into solo campaign territory that was tightly controlled -- no questions taken.

But for the first time since becoming McCain's running mate, Palin will take questions in an open forum from voters alongside the Arizona senator on Wednesday.

But Palin's solo debut is a case study in her appeal and in the McCain campaign strategy to keep her on a careful script.

Palin's two rallies out West were tightly controlled events. In Carson City, Nevada, on Saturday, Palin furiously signed autographs longer than she spoke.

In Golden, Colorado, on Monday, signs that voters brought to the rally were not allowed in. But yellow signs in the crowd were distributed by the campaign. Video Watch more on Palin's solo campaign appearances »

Palin spent this past Sunday in Denver out of sight, meeting with aides and staying away from the traveling press.

As for reporters following her around, they're still trying.

More and more, Palin appears to be honing her policy positions without getting too specific.

"Our regulatory system is outdated. ... Washington has ignored this. Washington has been asleep at the switch and ineffective," she said Monday.

It's a taste of the reform message McCain advisers call the key to winning, and the biggest bonus of adding a Washington outsider to the ticket -- especially in the anti-establishment Rocky Mountain states. Video Watch Palin lash out on Washington »

It was her first foray at campaigning alone since being minted as McCain's running mate.

At the campaign event in Carson City, Palin added fresh fodder to her now familiar stump speech -- what she'd like do in the White House.

"My mission is energy security and government reform," she said.

Palin also got a big response for a new swipe at Sen. Barack Obama:

"Our opponent wants to raise income taxes, and raise payroll taxes ... and raise investment income taxes."

Independent groups say that's a stretch, arguing that most Americans would get a tax cut under Obama's plan.

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But lines like that are drawing crowds along the campaign trail with newly enthused GOP voters and even some conservative Democrats such as Gayle Loughridge.

"I haven't been political my whole life, and Palin has got me energized. Got me up at 3:30 this morning just to hear what she has to say," she said.

CNN's Ed Hornick contributed to this report.

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