On the night before her big keynote address to the nation via the National Tea Party Convention that will be carried live on Fox News, CNN, Pajama TV, and many others, Sarah Palin was in Salina, Kansas addressing a huge enthusiastic crowd.
From Barbara Hollingsworth at the Topeka Capitol-Journal:
SALINA — Before a crowd of 6,000 cheering fans, Sarah Palin received rock star treatment Friday night.
The former vice presidential candidate and former Alaska governor drew a sell-out crowd to the Bicentennial Center for the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting — an event that routinely draws big names to the central Kansas community. Past speakers have included Colin Powell, George H.W. Bush, Bob Costas, Margaret Thatcher and Cal Ripken Jr.
“We’ve had great speakers in the past,” said Todd Davidson, of the chamber. “No one has generated this amount of interest — even President George H.W. Bush, who came here when he was a sitting president, did not drive this kind of a response.”
Since her role in John McCain’s ill-fated presidential run, Palin has attracted plenty of attention from people who both love and loathe her. Palin recently joined Fox News as a pundit, released her best-selling book “Going Rogue” in November and is on her way to speak at the first national Tea Party Convention this weekend in Nashville, Tenn.
On Friday, the crowd treated Palin as a conservative darling while she served up her mix of tough talk and folksy mannerisms.
“Everyday folks love you because you are one of us, and you tell it straight,” said Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kan.
Even Palin couldn’t ignore the excitement her appearance generated. Back stage, she said, a chamber member told her, “ ‘Man, this is like a Van Halen concert.’ I said, ‘Man, I wish.’ ”
In her speech, Palin sounded off on national security, government bailouts and limited government ideals. And she offered lots of praise for the hometown crowd.
“In a time when folks so fear that much is going wrong, your town is an example of how to get it right and how to soar,” said Palin, who was joined in Salina by her daughter, Piper. “Shoot, your state’s motto even has it right: to the stars through difficulties.”
Palin began by relating her experiences as a city councilwoman and mayor in Wasilla, Alaska. What worked there, she said, was cutting taxes, focusing on a few core services and spending responsibly. As governor, she said she learned to take tough stances.
“I’d have to butt heads with my own party officials and the other party, of course, too, and the media,” said Palin, who didn’t meet with reporters on her trip to Salina. “Some things never change. It wasn’t always the easy path, but it was the right path.”
Telling the crowd she was going to “call it like I see it,” she said Washington, D.C., politicians need to “back off.” While Americans have lost jobs and learned to live with less, she charged that government has become more bloated.
“Over the past year, Washington has replaced private irresponsibility with public irresponsibility,” she said.
The country, she said, needs health reform “not backroom deals.” She suggested measures like allowing insurance purchases across state lines and tort reform.
Also, she said the country needs to go after an “all-of-the-above-approach to energy.” She said increased drilling for oil must be pursued.
“Drill here and drill now, and tap our own plentiful energy supplies,” she said.
The Obama administration, she said, has lost its way on foreign policy. She said people wonder if the United States is still a “beacon of hope” for freedom.
“We need a foreign policy that distinguishes America’s friends from her enemies and recognizes the true nature of these threats that we are facing,” Palin said.
In the end, her speech brought the crowd to its feet.
Earlier in the night, Verlene and Joyce Jackson, of Chapman, said they hope to see Palin as president someday and like the fact that she hasn’t “always been in that ivory tower.”
“She has a fresh outlook,” Verlene Jackson said. “She speaks for us. She’s a down-home girl. I feel like personally, I think she would do a good job representing us.”
DeVee Smalley drove in from Superior, Neb., to join her two daughters for Palin’s speech.
“I think she is somebody who is trying to reach out to the heartland of America,” Smalley said.
Palin will be back in Kansas on May 2 to speak in Wichita at a fundraiser for a Christian school.
We were following Barbara live on Twitter tonight, and at one point she mentioned that this may have been the largest ever Chamber of Commerce gathering in the United States. You can check Barbara out on Twitter here.
This is a very big weekend for Sarah. Kansas Friday night, then she is doing an interview with Chris Wallace that will air on Fox News Sunday on Saturday morning, followed by her historic speech Saturday night,
It must be said, Sarah is giving her keynote speech to the nation on what would have been Ronald Reagan’s 99th birthday. I imagine Ronnie is looking down and smiling at this too.
Sunday Sarah will be in the Great State of Texas, Houston, to be exact, headlining a campaign rally for Governor Rick Perry. Then on Monday morning she will be one of the stars of the Get Motivated! motivational conference, also in Houston, before hopping a plane for Reading , California where she has two sold out speeches booked.
Then of course, next week she will be in Daytona, speaking to their Chamber of Commerce. From what we understand, the venue for the speech there has changed to a larger facility to handle the huge sellout crowd!
You know, if one didn’t know better, one would think Sarah was running for President or something! One thing is for sure, Sarah is tirelessly spreading her message of commonsense conservatism nationwide.
*Photo courtesy Thad Allton C-J Online