DENVER– In a highly anticipated speech here coming the night of the Republican state assemblies, tea party star Sarah Palin rallied a crowd of 6,000 conservative Coloradans that included a raft of state Republican politicians at the University of Denver’s Magness arena. She railed against President Obama and heaped praise on Ronald Reagan– and said nothing at all about the heated race for U.S. Senate that has pitted Weld County D.A. Ken Buck against former Lt Governor Jane Norton.
Palin was expected to endorse Norton. She had mentioned Norton at an event in Washington earlier in the week and, because Norton opted not to participate in the state’s GOP delegate assembly Saturday, the timing of the Palin speech suggested some coordination with the Norton campaign. An endorsement Saturday night at the event in Denver would have diluted the power of the victory Buck won at the assembly in Loveland earlier in the day. Indeed, Buck was perhaps the star of the show at the assembly, winning a whopping 76 percent of the delegate votes and the confidence of activist voters who had packed into the Budweiser Center from all over the state. The absent Palin endorsement in Denver leaves Norton with nothing to take from the GOPs biggest political weekend of the year, her candidacy now clearly struggling.
Norton reportedly met with Palin earlier in the day and sat in the middle of the third row in front of the stage at the Magness Center. But Palin didn’t acknowledge Norton, or Buck, who was also in attendance, or any other state politicians.
Palin’s remarks were framed as a conversation she would have with Pres Obama if given the chance. She would repeal and replace recently passed health care legislation, which she argued violated the constitution and threatened democracy. She would advise him to secure the borders of the country. She would attempt to persuade him to limit all government interference with business– to “end the bailouts and government spending” so the economy could “roar back to life.” She would tell him to be proud of America and to end the “apology tour” that she said defines his foreign policy, where our enemies are coddled and our allies alienated. Referring to the strained relations between Israel and the U.S. that grew out of defiant Jewish settlement expansion in Jerusalem this year, she said Obama had escalated a “minor border dispute” into an international affair.
“Iran wants to get nukes; Jerusalem isn’t merely a settlement; and Israel is a friend and we’d like to see her treated as one,” she said to loud applause.
She also said she would point out the irony of Obama’s wanting to lead the country toward European socialism even as Europe is finally having to reckon with market realities and failing.
A high point for the crowd came when she talked about Republican chances for winning seats in the coming elections. She quoted a bumper sticker that drew on one of the gaffes that marked her run for vice president in 2008. At the time, she told reporters that her relevant foreign policy experience included being able to see Russia from her house in Alaska.
I saw this bumper sticker on the car of a “jar head” I know, she said, referring to a Marine acquaintance.
“The sticker says: ‘I can see November from my house,'” she told the howling crowd. “Now that was palm-worthy. I had to write that down,” she said, throwing her left palm up for the audience to see, the phrase scrawled across it in fuzzy ink. More howls went up from the audience, Palin’s palm staring down at them from the arena Jumbotron and two enormous screens on either side of the stage.
The event was hosted by Denver’s KNUS and Colorado Springs’ KZNT, two AM talk radio stations owned by Christian-right Salem Communications.
Palin was preceded by talk radio stars Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt, who took turns sounding dire warnings about the direction of the country under Democratic leadership. Prager passionately outlined the difference between “American values” and “leftist values.” Hewitt set out election strategy points conservatives should follow to win in November. “Never stop talking about national security,” he said, as one of his points. “Iran is a menace and a cancer.”
Palin seemed as practiced in conservative talk-radio style entertainment as her fellow speakers. Her speech was peppered with broad celebrations of freedom and liberty and zingers about the “Democrat party” and top “Democrat” figures like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
“I love talk radio. Talk radio audiences are some of the most knowledgeable in the country,” she told the crowd. “What you’re doing for Americans is just so great,” she told Prager and Hewitt and the radio show producers. “Teaching us all about the Constitution.”