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NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – “I have never been more optimistic about the future. The best is yet to come.”

Sarah Palin ended on that soaring high note, bringing the crowd to its feet for the umpteenth time in a speech that radiated with hope and an optimism that the dawn of a new era of conservatism is here.

The former U.S. vice presidential candidate and Alaska governor also offered her own version of hope and change, assuring conservatives, “This is the stirring of a great awakening. The age of Obama is almost over. The end of an ‘error.’ He is the lamest of lame ducks.”

As the closing speaker at CPAC, the annual convention of conservatives just outside of Washington, “Mama grizzly” delivered some political red meat to her adoring cubs, offering a dazzling array of one-liners.

She explained how a catchy slogan became an alarming reality as “Yes, we can” became “No, you can’t.”

“No, you can’t log onto the Obamacare website. No, you can’t keep your health care. No, you can’t make a phone call without being spied upon.” And without Michelle Obama learning that you ordered a pizza for a third time in a week.

Palin said President Obama’s foreign policy had been reduced to dialing real fast with his phone and threatening to poke Russian President Vladimir Putin with his pen.

“But, I’m probably being too hard on the president,” she said before delivering a line that brought the house down: “After all, who could have seen this coming?”

That was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact she predicted in 2008, accurately, as it turned out, that Putin would feel free to invade Ukraine should Obama be elected, a statement that was widely ridiculed in the mainstream media.

She also observed that Obama’s policy of “leading from behind only leads to some very bad dudes gaining ground.”

When it came to the GOP’s so-called war on women, Palin claimed, on the contrary, Republicans “recognize the potential of every women so much that we’re the party that respects every sister, even the littlest ones in the womb.”

But Palin didn’t restrict her fire to Democrats; she also had some words of warning for Republican leaders.

“GOP beltway boys – you know the 2010 victory that swept the GOP into power – you didn’t build that, the tea party did it.”

She told the GOP elite if they want another sweep, “Grab a broom and join the party. There are not enough low-information voters to save the other side this time, if we don’t retreat.”

Palin’s immense optimism was laced with more warnings for Republicans.

“This is the stirring of a great awakening. I do feel the eyes of America are open. Unfortunately, some would want you to just hit the snooze button and roll back over. Like, ‘Hush America, go back to sleep little lamb, go back to sleep. Close those eyes.’ Some of these folks are in the GOP establishment.

She chided GOP leaders for thinking the smart thing was to “lay back, stay out of the way” while Obamacare crashed and the economy came to a stop.

“Some GOP experts say don’t interrupt the opposition while they are destroying themselves. But you do interrupt when they are destroying the country.”

The crowd wasn’t satisfied to give that line just a standing ovation. They broke out in a chant of “Run Sarah, Run.”

Palin delivered a stunning response: “I should run.”

But then, she deadpanned, “I didn’t get to run this morning,” changing the crowd’s cheers to sudden laughter.

Taking the attention away from herself, she said, “We’ve got good guys” in Washington, mentioning Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Mike Lee, R-Utah and Rand Paul, R-Ky, all of whom she endorsed when they were underdogs.

But, she said, “It’s time we send them reinforcements.”

She credited Cruz with igniting what she called a great awakening in America when he filibustered to try to defund Obamacare, an effort in which Lee and Paul provided strong support.

Palin said the Cruz filibuster “worked in waking people up to the folly of the government taking over a sixth of the economy.”

She said it “told his colleagues it was time – time to stand up. Time to use the tools of the Constitution, the power of the purse, to fulfill their campaign promises and to stop Obamacare.”

The mother of five also congratulated Cruz on his use of Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham” as a way to show he cared about the future of his own children and all the children in America.

Palin playfully offered her own, revised version of the story, that she said she now tells her son, Trig.

“I do not like this Uncle Sam,
I do not like his health care scam.
I do not like these dirty crooks
or how they lie and cook the books.
I do not like when Congress steals,
I do not like their crony deals.
I do not like this spying, man.
I do not like, ‘Oh, yes, we can.’
I do not like this spending spree,
we’re smart, we know nothing’s free.
I do not like reporters’ smug replies
when I complain about their lies.
I do not like this kind of hope
and we won’t take it, nope, nope, nope.”

Follow Garth Kant on Twitter @DCgarth

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