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.
She mocked President Obama’s jobs plan by aligning it to a different sort of acronym: “He has a jobs plan to win the future. WTF, I know.”
“We have a better jobs plan,” she added, “and it’s called the free market.”
And she even spilled into rhyme a couple times in her speech. “We’re not red Americans, we’re not blue Americans, we’re red, white and blue, and President Obama, we are through with you,” she said in her opening.
“We know how to deal with that debt,” she said at another point. “We cut it, gut it, get rid of it.”
Palin spent a good chunk of her speech slamming Washington and the “crony capitalism” within.
“Maybe instead of calling Washington a swamp we should call it a wetlands,” she quipped. “Maybe that would slow the growth of development.”
She said the nation’s capital used to be a place where people came to serve, and now “they arrive as men and women of modest means and they become plutocrats.”
“What I say to occupiers: You’re occupying the wrong place, you’re protesting the wrong thing,” she said.
Palin also defended the staying power of the Tea Party, brushing off assertions that the movement is wilting.
“Tea Party patriots are alive and well” going into this year’s congressional elections, she said. “And this time, Establishment, we expect they’ll get leadership posts.”