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Palin kicks off Tea Party Express tour

She rallied conservative activists in Nevada at the start of a nationwide tour aimed at ousting Democrats from power. She had warnings for President Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

October 19, 2010|Michael A. Memoli, Tribune Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington — Sarah Palin rallied conservative activists in Nevada today with a fiery speech kicking off the Tea Party Express' nationwide tour aimed at ousting Democrats from power in 2010.

But the former Alaska governor's remarks also included strong warnings about 2012, both for President Obama and perhaps for her would-be opponents in the race to challenge him.

Palin's speech was one of triumph for the "tea party" movement, in which she told a supportive crowd: "We're winning!"

"You've been ridiculed, you've been mocked, you've been slandered by the left. Still you didn't let the big government-loving professional politicians and the complicit left-wing, lamestream media tell you to sit down and shut up," she said. "Instead no, you didn't retreat. You reloaded. And you've turned this country around."

Though she said conservative candidates were on course to win, she said no one could rest up in the final weeks of the campaign since Democrats were "wee-weed up" and "coming after our candidates hard."

"Don't be thinkin' that we got victory for America in the bag yet," she said. "We can't let up. We can't get cocky about this. We can't party like it's 1773, not yet."

Palin spoke at the kickoff of a "Liberty at the Ballot Box" cross-country bus tour organized by Tea Party Express, a California-based group that has notched some major victories for conservative, anti-establishment candidates in Republican primaries this week. The group's top focus now is unseating Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, though his Republican opponent, Sharron Angle, was not in attendance today.

Palin said not only would Reid be defeated, but that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be "fired." And to Obama, she warned: "You're next. Because we can see 2012 from our house," a play on a famous "Saturday Night Live" sketch mocking Palin for saying Russia's proximity to Alaska constituted foreign policy experience.

Palin listed a slew of Republican candidates for Senate, House and governor posts that deserved support, including Christine O'Donnell in Delaware and Joe Miller in her home state of Alaska. She also curiously included New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte — who she has dubbed a "Granite Grizzly" — and incumbents like Jim DeMint in South Carolina and Charles E. Grassley in Iowa, three early nominating states.

All year, the former vice presidential nominee has shown a willingness to back Republican candidates in competitive primaries, sometimes at odds with the national committees and other potential 2012 candidates who have either backed others or stayed out. Palin targeted those Republicans as well, who she said are "playing a little too safe."

"Some of you need to man up and spend some political capital to support the tea party candidates, instead of doing this, waiting to see how everything's going to go," she said. "Some of these politicians, the big wigs within the machine, they're driving me crazy because they're too chicken to come out and support the tea party candidates."

Tea Party Express's tour continues in Nevada today and tomorrow, before moving on to California on Wednesday. It will include 17 more states by November, ending in New Hampshire.

mmemoli@tribune.com

twitter.com/mikememoli

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