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Bridget Johnson

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February 11, 2012 - 3:05 pm
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Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin didn’t come to CPAC to endorse any of the GOP presidential hopefuls, but to encourage that the nomination contest continue as long as necessary to pick the right guy.

She chastised those who panned the process as dragging out too long, “as if competition weakens our nominee …and yet in America we believe competition strengthens us.”

Palin expressed confidence that a nominating contest without an end currently in sight “will lead us to victory in 2012.”

She cautioned against the fight turning too dirty, though. “Let’s make sure this competition brings out the best in our party,” she said.

In an interview with CNN and the New York Times before her speech, Palin said that Romney, who was announced winner of the CPAC straw poll, needs to do a better job explaining his “shifts in ideology” to draw voters to the real polls in November. “I wasn’t quite sure what the word ‘severely’ meant,” she said of Romney’s Friday speech.

Her appeal to the conservative base follows comments she made in that interview endorsing the possibility of a brokered convention. “I don’t think that it would be a negative for the party, a brokered convention,” she said. “And people who start screaming that a brokered convention is the worst thing for the GOP, they have an agenda.”

To the CPAC crowed, Palin called for party unity in backing the eventual 2012 nominee. “Whoever our nominee is we must work together to get him over the finish line,” she said. “This time next year we will have a true conservative in the Oval Office … we will have a president who defends our American way of life instead of apologizing for it.”

The former governor received a rock-star reception, and was the only major speech to be disrupted by a protester. The crowd drowned out the protester with chants of “USA.”

“See, you just won,” Palin told the audience before continuing her address.

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