On the final day of the 40th annual CPAC 2013, conservative darling, Sarah Palin (former Governor of Alaska) took the stage in the main ballroom. The conference-goers had begun making their way into the ballroom at the tail end of the session that preceded hers, quickly leaving standing room only. That Palin was introduced by a representative of the NRA definitely set the stage for the references to guns and Constitutionality that would litter her speech.
In her brief introduction, Vanessa Younes of the National Rifle Association advised the audience to “always shake things up.” This nod to the renegade Sarah Palin continued, describing her as “a pioneer, a patriot” with “undeniable charm and confidence.” The crowd took to its feet to welcome the featured speaker, but instead of Palin, the keynoter, Ted Cruz (R-TX), took the stage first. With his famous ear-to-ear grin, Cruz said to the confused crowd, “As all of you know, I’m not nearly cool enough to be Sarah Palin,” but said he came out on stage to thank her publicly for her ongoing support of Tea Party candidates and noted that she “drives the mainstream media bat crap crazy.”
Cruz welcomed Sarah Palin onto the stage, where she wasted no time launching into attacks on Obama and the mainstream media. To the liberal media attending CPAC to report on the “annual conservative-in-crisis story,” and whom she asked to identify themselves with a show of hands, she said, “Be proud, you’re loud, and we’re used to it.”
In usual fashion, she hit Obama pretty hard and got a great deal of laughs and applause. On the recent election, she acknowledged that yes, we did just lose a big one: “We came in second…out of two.” What we really wanted, she said, was to see Obama “bubble wrap the Nobel…and the golf clubs…and the hi-tops,” but, addressing Obama directly, she said, now it’s time to “step away from the teleprompter and do your job!”
Some of her other great Obama-busting lines:
“We don’t have leadership coming out of Washington. We have reality television.”
“Obama is a good politician, which is like saying Bernie Madoff was a good salesman.”
“More background checks? Dandy idea, Mr. President! Shoulda started with yours!”
The consistent message of her talk to the conservative audience was that we’re not here to rebrand the party; we’re here to restore America. “Never before have our challenges been so big and our leaders so small.” She encouraged people to identify folks they know and “encourage her…or him…to run for office!” noting that “the last thing we need is Washington, DC vetting our candidates.”
Now a hallmark of Palin speeches, she became rather antagonistic when speaking of the current President’s disdain for the Constitution. She cited “Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution” saying, “No budget for four years is government refusing to declare what it intends to do with the people’s money. Barack Obama promised the most transparent administration…Barack Obama, you lie!”
Over the years since Palin has been in the national spotlight, she’s consistently held the affection of the GOP, in large part for the relate-ability of her personality. She talks about her personal life in way that middle-America can connect with. When she turned to discussion of the Second Amendment today, for example, she referenced the gifts she and hubby Todd bought each other for Christmas. She described a gun rack he bought her to attach to the couple’s four wheeler and the gun she bought him to put on it, saying, “Yep, I got the rack, he got the rifle.” For probably the tenth time during her speech, the crowd erupted in laughter and applause.
In perhaps the funniest moment of her 25-minute long speech, however, Palin reached down beneath the podium and returned with a Super Big Gulp filled with “pop,” from which she took a rather large swig …and again, the crowd went wild.
Whether you are a Sarah Palin fan or not, there is no denying that she gets the conservative crowd riled up, especially when she starts in on Big Government’s infringement on Americans’ rights. She connects with most subsets of the conservative movement to some degree: gun owners, hockey moms, Christians, small business owners, women (shouting “Amen, sista!” while talking about Margaret Thatcher), and even college Republicans (whom she said should be “thinking like Sam Adams and not drinking Sam Adams”). Her speeches are always guaranteed to entertain, and considering the lack of energy in many of the other speeches at this year’s CPAC, Sara Palin’s Big Gulp moment was a welcome change of pace.