Sara Palin addressing national tea party convention
Palin addressing national tea party convention

NASHVILLE – Sarah Palin received a rousing welcome from a crowd of more than 1,000 tea partiers last night at the first national tea party convention as she sent a strong message that she supports lower taxes, smaller government, transparency, energy independence and strong national security.

A large banquet room at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel was crowded from wall-to-wall with energized tea partiers and as many as 120 press organizations from around the world – including broadcasters from Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Croatia and Japan.

“I’m a big supporter of this movement,” she said. “America is ready for another revolution.”

Palin applauded Scott Brown’s recent Senate win in Massachusetts.

“Scott Brown represents what this beautiful movement is all about,” she said. “He was just a guy with a truck and passion to serve our country. It took guts, and it took a lot of hard work. But with grass-roots support, Scott Brown carried the day.”

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Palin warned tea partiers not to let the movement be defined by one leader or politician.

“The tea party movement is not a top-down operation. It’s a ground-up call to action that is forcing both parties to change the way that they’re doing business,” she said.

She said Americans are discouraged by what they see in Washington, and the “Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda” is leaving the nation less secure, deeper in debt and more submissive to big government.

Palin also spent several minutes discussing her concerns about national security.

“Americans deserve to know the truth about the threats we face,” she said. “Let’s talk about the new terms used, like Overseas Contingency Operation instead of the word ‘war.’ That reflects a worldview that’s out of touch with the enemy that we face.”

She said the nation cannot spin its way out of the threat of terrorism.

“It’s one thing to call a pay raise a job created or saved,” Palin added. “It’s quite another to call devastation that a homicide bomber can inflict a manmade disaster.”

She warned the administration’s response to the Christmas Day airplane bombing plot reflects the kind of thinking that led to Sept. 11.

“We’re seeing that mindset again settling into Washington. That’s scares me, for my children, for your children,” Palin said. “Treating this like a federal law enforcement matter places our country at grave risk because that’s not how radical Islamic extremists are looking at this. They know we’re at war, and to win that war, we need a commander in chief.”

She criticized the president for spending a whole year reaching out to hostile regimes, writing personal letters to dangerous dictators and apologizing for America.

“What do we have to show for that?” Palin asked. “Here’s what we have to show: North Korea tested nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles. Israel, a friend and a critical ally, now questions strength of our support. Plans for a missile-defense system in Europe, they’ve been scrapped. Relations with China and Russia are no better. And relations with Japan – that key Asian ally – are in the worst shape in years.”

She noted that Obama only spent about 9 percent of his State of the Union address discussing national security and foreign policy.

“There weren’t a whole lot of victories that he could talk about that night,” she said. “We need a foreign policy that distinguishes America’s friends from her enemies.”

Palin argued for a strong national defense and foreign policy.

“It’s time for more than just tough talk,” she said. “We are just so tired of hearing the talk, talk, talk. We need a clear foreign policy that stands with the people and for democracy, one that reflects both our values and our interests.”

She said American lawmakers must stop ignoring the Constitution and disregarding the principles of limited government.

“Washington has now replaced private responsibility with public irresponsibility,” she said. “The list of companies and industries that the government is crowding out and bailing out and taking over continues to grow. First it was the banks, our mortgage companies, financial institutions, then automakers.”

Meanwhile, while Americans are still looking for jobs, people on Wall Street are collecting billions and billions in bailout bonuses, she said,

“Among the top 17 companies that received your bailout money, 92 percent of the senior officers and directors, they still have their good jobs,” she said. “Every day, Americans are wondering, where are the consequences?”

Now a year later, she asked supporters of Obama’s policies, “How is that hopey-changey stuff working out for ya?”

She listed the president’s many “broken promises,” noting that the president now has more than 40 lobbyists in his administration and failed to allow the public to inspect a bill for five days before a vote.

“It’s easy to understand why Americans are shaking their heads when Washington has broken trust with the people that these politicians are to be serving,” Palin said.

The nation is drowning in debt as Congress has unveiled a “record-busting, mind-boggling” $3.8 trillion federal budget, she added.

“They keep printing these dollars, and they keep making us more and more beholden to foreign countries,” Palin said. “What they’re doing in proposing these big new programs with giant price tags is they’re sticking our kids with the bill. That’s immoral. That’s generational theft.”

She said the government must adopt a pro-market agenda, lower taxes for small businesses and jumpstart energy projects – including nuclear power and offshore drilling.

“If they do this, our economy would roar back to life,” she said confidently.

Palin said Americans want common-sense conservative solutions and a government that abides by the Constitution.

“When the work of Washington violates our Constitution, then we will stand up and we will be counted,” she said. “Only limited government can expand prosperity and opportunity for all. Freedom is a God-given right that’s worth fighting for.”

Palin described the people who make up the tea party movement as good, kind and selfless.

“They are deeply concerned about our country,” she said. “Let’s make this movement a tribute to their good example and make it worthy of their hard work and support.”

Palin’s speech was the concluding event at the tea party convention this weekend.

Brainstorming sessions focused on concerns about government spending, mounting national debt and increasing taxation. Speakers urged tea partiers to consider running for office at various levels of government and advised the rest to unite behind candidates who share their values and respect for constitutional principles.

Earlier today, Tea Party Nation President Judson Phillips, organizer of the convention, told a crowd, “Complaining is not enough. We need to replace bad leadership with good leadership.”

He asked, “How many of you – before the tea party movement – were never involved in politics?”

Phillips smiled and scanned the room as more than 90 percent of people in the crowd eagerly raised their hands. To which he responded: “Thank you, Barack Obama.”

Palin’s speech can be viewed at the C-SPAN website.

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