September 2nd, 2009
10:53 PM ET
5 years ago

Looking for a leader, Tea Partiers issue invite to Palin

’Draft Sarah Palin 2012’ T-shirts for sale.
’Draft Sarah Palin 2012’ T-shirts for sale.

EL PASO, Texas (CNN) - As the Tea Party Express makes its way across the country, Sarah Palin has emerged as a favorite daughter of the movement, and organizers have invited her to join the tour - or at least come to the final stop in the nation's capital.

The bus is scheduled to end its nationwide journey in Washington on Saturday, September 12.

"We've been in touch with her people, letting her know the response that we've gotten. She's very suportive of the movement," says Joe Wierzbicki, one of the organizers traveling on the Tea Party Express.

So far, no politician has emerged as a leader of the Tea Party movement – and the question of just who might eventually take up the mantle is a hot topic on the bus. Nobody may be better positioned than Palin - but organizers, some of the most motivated members of the conservative base, still say she'll need to earn that title.

"Right now there's a handful of people who strike a chord with the tea party base, and she is certainly one of those people," says Wierzbicki. "Whether or not she emerges as one of those leaders, that's between her and the American people."

Sal Russo, another organizer of the Tea Party Express, launched his career in conservative politics working for Ronald Reagan's California gubernatorial campaign in 1966.

Russo thinks Palin might emerge as a leader of the Tea Party movement – but she'll have to earn that title first.

"I think it's a possibility," he says. "When the election was over in November, I think her support was a lot stronger than it is today. She's got to kind of get her act together, and develop a presence with the public that inspires some confidence.

"She could be the kind of person that becomes the leader of the Tea Party movement, but she hasn't done anything yet to assume that role."

At tea party protests, Palin's is the name heard most often amongst participants. In El Paso, Texas Wednesday, the crowd chanted "Sar-rah, Sar-rah." One hot item: "Draft Sarah Palin 2012" t-shirts.

Tom and Susan Mendez came to the tea party in Albuquerque looking for a leader. They have two homes in foreclosure. Tom, a general contractor, is having trouble finding work.

"This movement needs direction," he told CNN. He said he fears the concerns of the tea partiers may not be heard in Washington.

"They're not getting the message from us, so they need to get the message from someone. Maybe Sarah Palin."

His wife Susan lit up at the mention of Palin's name. She voted for Ron Paul last year, and has a dream ticket in mind.

"Palin and Paul sound good to me," she said.

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Filed under: Extra • Popular Posts • Sarah Palin
soundoff (183 Responses)
  1. James, Phoenix AZ

    Was her invitation written in crayon?

    September 2, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  2. Jasmine in Germany

    Egads, another article which explains why the USA is ranked 39th in education in the world. Wake up, America, and follow your intelligent leader; Barack Obama!

    September 2, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  3. jay from jersey

    Oh cmon!

    Republicans don't have anyone else? They have to hang their hat with this lady!

    Powell/Daniels 2012!

    September 2, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  4. Dan, TX

    Just how ignorant are Americans? I have to ask. How many study – really study the issues of the day? Someone complained about how people can't see the rationing in the health care bill – "it's right there a 'limit of $5000 for individuals and $10,000 for families', how much clearer can it state how health care will be rationed!".

    However, that is the limit on out-of-pocket expenses, not limit on how much would be covered. So, this person who complained about the health care bill, was not able to read something that he, himself, called plain language. The American people are far too ignorant. The answer is to educate them. We have got to start failing more children when they don't master language, math, and reasoning skills. It is our only hope. Please teachers, start giving more 'F's and flunk those who have not learned. It is the only way our country will survive.

    September 2, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  5. Anonoymous in Chugiak

    Levi – If they send you an invitation, DON'T ACCEPT IT! You're far too intelligent for those loons.

    September 2, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  6. John

    Perfect. With Palin as their leader (lol), their poor misguided cause is doomed. Anyway, she would likely walk out on them halfway there. Just like she walked out on the poor people of Alaska that put her in office. The people she PROMISED to serve...took an OATH to serve. Her word doesn't mean squat.
    Yes, Please! Make Palin your leader!

    September 2, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  7. Frank

    Looney bin.

    September 2, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  8. Matthew

    Tea Partiers? C'mon, CNN. They call themselved Tea Baggers. Please don't let the most hilarious Freudian slip in recent memory fade away.

    September 2, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  9. Doug Olsen

    Sarah Pallin shouldn't be invited anywhere after all those dumb statements she has been making.

    September 2, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  10. Susan

    The woman can't even lead her family, let alone any kind of serious movement. If the Tea Partiers and Beck and Hannity want to be taken seriously, why are they contacting Palin? She let the elderly die in Alaska, increased taxes on big oil and then redistributed the money, can't seem to keep her own schedule straight, and wanted to adopt Bristol's child. Yessirree, just the kind of intellectual the Tea Party is looking for.

    September 2, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  11. ERP

    If we ever had any doubts about how idiotic and hypocritical these so-called tea party people were, now there should be no more doubts. With the clueless Sarah Palin the quitter as their leader, they will now surely find the road to oblivion.

    September 2, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  12. annie

    I would suggest she stop in and see Obamessaih while she is there – but he is LEAVING ON VACATION TO CAMP DAVID... dragging a "Dummies Guide to Leading the Military" book with him so that he can bone up on understanding what the Generals are getting ready to ask him for on Afghanistan. Geezzzz... Does this Clown ever work? Lets see that is 245 days in Office & 234 days of vacation. Yep Americans sure know how to pick the a real weenier.. opps I mean winner here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 2, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  13. Grrr-awful-o

    Don't gloat too much. She may not be a national level politician, but she could probably out-rally Cindy Sheehan. And that could be more problematic (for the left) than if she actually got elected to office in Washington. After all, she is just like Barack Obama – a great campaigner. Ok, gloat on...

    September 2, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  14. Failed Politics and A Wink!!!

    Plz make sure you have a back up.....Palin could be a no Show !!!

    September 2, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  15. Sandra,Atlanta

    The words 'leader' and 'Sarah Palin' should never be uttered in the same sentence unless you are talking about winking.

    September 2, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  16. skeptic1

    tea partiers 'lead' by palin – the perfect intellectual match! remember peoples, it's shiny side out when wearing your tin foil hats…

    September 2, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  17. Susan

    Sarah needs to also stop taking the government money allotted to handicapped children. After all, it must be a socialist program at worst, and it is a government handout at best. So I'm SURE she never cashed one of those checks, since Republicans are so self reliant.

    September 2, 2009 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  18. Suzan

    The only way she can get an invite to Washington is on the TEA BAG EXPRESS, whats that tell you.........no one of any importance in DC has asked her to come speak at anything........most respectable and serious contenders in the GOP are staying as far away from this woman as possible.......she is like Tyfoid Mary..........

    September 2, 2009 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  19. Scott

    Yes, please let her run in 2012. Maybe Michelle Baachman can help her lose so we can keep the far better Dems in power.

    September 2, 2009 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  20. Va 4 Obama

    Sarah Palin may accept The Tea Party Express invitation but then she'll have a "scheduling conflict" and be a no show. Which is fine with me...I live in the DC suburbs and would prefer Sarah be NOWHERE near here!!

    September 2, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  21. Chris

    More proof that the tea parties are full of rabid right wing clowns. They pay no attention to the socialist policies that Palin had while she was Governor of Alaska.

    September 2, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  22. annie against biased news

    Not for sure they need a leader – they are pretty much all on the same page unlike crazy czars and the obama administration.

    September 2, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  23. Joe

    Dumb and dumber. The lunatic express invites a fellow lunatic to embarrass America again.

    September 2, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  24. Tom in Delaware

    Seeing the effect that she has on Liberals, I can't think of anyone better suited to be the next President of the United States.

    I 'd love to see her speak in DC on 9-12...I'll be there.

    September 2, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  25. VGal

    It's too funny the feud btwn Palin and the kid – Levi. Palin's all upset that he's doing news conferences – but so is she!!

    September 2, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
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