How influential is Sarah Palin?
Judging on sheer media interest alone, she's formidable. What other politician could get live prime time cable news coverage of an entire speech from Indiana right now?
Arguably two. Both from Illinois. One is the President of the United States. The other was just charged with 16 felony counts and could be facing 300 years in prison.
Palin, like Obama and Blagojevich, has remained in the national consciousness for months. In fact, since being named John McCain's running mate back in late August she's never left it. Sure, much of the attention since election day has been for things Jerry Springer has made a career on, but she's still mentioned in nearly every conversation as one of the leading Republican contenders for the nation's highest office.
She didn't speak much of 2012 last night at an event in Evansville, Indiana. Although she did hold up a Palin for President bumper sticker that was given to her by a supporter. But it was for her daughter Piper's presidential run in 2044.
As it was a right-to-life event, Palin was expectedly well-received. And because it was carried live by some cable networks, the State of Alaska couldn't have had better PR with the governor spending a sizable chunk of her speech talking about the benefits of living in the 49th state.
"Alaska is the only state in the nation with a negative tax rate," she said. "No income tax, no state sales tax, no state property tax and I want to keep it that way because I believe our families and small business can spend the money they earn better than government she can."
But it was when she spoke of her son Trig that the most personal side of Palin came out. Specifically when she mentioned the thoughts she had upon getting word that her yet-to-be-born child was diagnosed with Down syndrome.
"There just for a fleeting moment I thought, I knew, nobody knows me here. Nobody would ever know. I thought, wow, it is easy. It could be easy to think maybe of trying to change the circumstances. No one would know. No one would ever know."
But it was time, she said, to "walk the walk" in regards to her long-standing pro-life convictions.
"I had just enough faith to know that trying to change the circumstances wasn't any answer," she said.
"The moment he was born, I knew that moment my prayers had been answered," Palin said. "Trig is a miracle. He is the best thing that ever happened to me and I want other women to have that opportunity."
Any shots at the president?
Not directly. She criticized the economic stimulus package as giving her heartburn proclaiming that "this isn't free money, folks."
And she said that deciding when babies get human rights isn't above her pay grade — a reference to then candidate-Obama's answer on an abortion question posed to him by Pastor Rick Warren during the campaign. He said such questions were above his pay grade.
As for her own remarks during the campaign, she stood by at least one of them. She repeated perhaps the most lampooned of her campaign remarks when discussing the importance of Alaska's geographical location to the country's defense.
"Yes, you can see Russia from Alaska," she said to much laughter.
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