Reporting from Washington — Positioning herself more and more like a presidential candidate, Sarah Palin issued a lengthy and blistering response to President Obama's State of the Union address late Wednesday, saying that the president had lost the trust of the American people.
"Real leadership is more than just words; it's deeds," the former Alaska governor said in a message published on Facebook. "The president's deeds don't lend confidence that we can trust his words spoken" Tuesday night.
Like many Republicans, Palin equated Obama's call for renewed investment in education, infrastructure and technology as a mandate for ramped-up federal spending. Echoing President Clinton's State of the Union address in 1996, Palin said Obama was telling the public: "The era of big government is here as long as I am, so help me pay for it."
And adding a touch of snark, she said, Obama "dubbed it a "Winning The Future" speech, but the title's acronym seemed more accurate than much of the content."
Palin largely had been silent on the national stage since she posted a video response earlier this month to critics who tied her firearm-flavored campaign rhetoric to the shootings in Tucson. Those remarks then drew further criticism from some who said that she appeared too defensive and unconcerned with the victims, while also drawing the condemnation of some Jewish leaders for using the term "blood libel" to describe the attacks on her.
But her 1,700-word response to Obama's speech suggests that Palin is assuming a role as one of Obama's central antagonists. In it, she also accuses the president of not paying enough attention to the federal debt.
"Our country's future is at stake, and we're rapidly reaching a crisis point," Palin said. "Our government is spending too much, borrowing too much, and growing too much. Debt is stifling our private sector growth, and millions of Americans are desperately looking for work."
And she went to great pains to distinguish her oft-repeated view of "American exceptionalism" from Obama's: "He couched his proposals to grow government and increase spending in the language of 'national greatness,' Palin said. "This seems to be the Obama administration's version of American exceptionalism – an 'exceptionally big government,' in which a centralized government declares that we shall be great and innovative and competitive, not by individual initiative, but by government decree. Where once he used words like 'hope' and 'change,' the president may now talk about 'innovation' and 'competition'; but the audacity of his recycled rhetoric no longer inspires hope."
Palin made passing mention of the "tea party" -- and firmly embraced that movement's populist persona, saying that Obama is allied with big business and that everyday Americans would suffer as a result."It's basically a corporatist agenda – it's the collaboration between big government and the big businesses that have powerful friends in D.C. and can afford to hire big lobbyists," she said, labeling that collaboration "crony capitalism."
Quoting President Reagan, Palin said, 'You can't be for big government, big taxes, and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy." President Obama's proposals [Tuesday] night stick the little guy with the bill, while big government and its big corporate partners prosper."
Palin wasn't the only possible presidential candidate to respond to the president's speech. Mitt Romney, appearing on Sean Hannity's show on Fox News on Wednesday evening, called Obama "misguided."
"He's trying awfully hard," the former Massachusetts governor said. "The problem is that he really doesn't know what to do."
Like Palin, Romney said that the president failed to offer specific plans to reduce unemployment and government spending. "He starts off by saying the right things," Romney said. "He doesn't understand that the entrepreneurial spirit of free men and women unfettered from an excessive government regulatory and taxation environment is the right way to create jobs and to build the new enterprises that frankly have powered us in the past and can power us in the future."
"It's sad to watch in some respects," Romney said.
Despite not formally announcing presidential bids, both potential candidates have been raising money at a furious pace through their political action committees. As reported earlier by The Times Romney has raised more than $9 million over last two years and Palin has raised more than $5.5 million.
A formal declaration of candidacy from either Palin or Romney could still be months away.