'Run, Sarah, run': Sarah Palin's tea party speech a hit
Light, folksy, and full of jabs against President Obama and the Democrats in Washington, Sarah Palin’s tea party speech in Nashville, Tenn., marked a possible milestone for her future presidential plans. But will the tea party movement help or hurt her plans in the long run?
Appearing relaxed and filling the Opryland resort here with her trademark folksy but often stinging jabs at Obama and the Democrats, Sarah Palin on Saturday night became the face of the anti-establishment ‘tea party’ movement.
“America is ready for another revolution, and you are part of this,” Ms. Palin told 1,100 attendees at the first National Tea Party Convention at the Opryland resort outside Nashville.
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While calling for new "big ideas," Palin didn't lay out any specific plans, as prospective presidential contenders are wont to when they have a chance to give a national speech, according to the Associated Press.
She did, however, criticize Democrats in Washington for what she called the failure to right the US economy, expensive bailout packages, and for what she perceives as a lax national security stance. She specifically called for "tough actions like sanctions on Iran."
Ms. Palin said she is not seeking a leadership role in the tea party. The former Republican vice presidential candidate and current Fox News commentator told the convention that they – and she – were proof that “you don’t need an office or a title to make a difference, and you don't need a proclaimed leader, as if we are all a bunch of sheep and looking for a leader to progress this movement.”
But the high enthusiasm in the room for the former Alaska governor – many of the tea party activists at the event undertook long drives to see her – suggested she could be the leader of this movement if she wanted.
“Run, Sarah, run,” the crowd at the convention exhorted.
On Fox News Sunday, she suggested she was contemplating a presidential run in 2012.
De facto leader?
As keynote speaker at the convention, Palin has undoubtedly given the tea party movement a new level of legitimacy and stature. Moreover, her decision to go ahead with the speech even as others pulled out suggested to many that she may be positioning herself as the de facto leader of the tea party movement.
Bolstering that view is Palin’s decision to turn down an invitation to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference later this month. The conference is widely considered a must-attend event for conservatives and Republicans lining up a run for office.
But associating herself so strongly with the tea party movement – she’s planning to headline tea party events in Searchlight, Nev., and Boston in the near future – could hurt Palin, too. For one, it could turn off independent and moderate voters, many of whom make up the 46 percent of Americans who view her unfavorably, according to a recent CNN poll.