NASHVILLE, Tennessee (CNN) – When Sarah Palin gives the keynote speech Saturday night at what's being billed as the first national Tea Party convention, it's safe to say that she'll be among friends.
The former Alaska governor was the darling of many conservatives when she served as the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, and many of those attending the convention at Nashville's Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center say they are big Palin supporters.
Pam Silleman, a 52-year-old small business owner and Tea Party activist who traveled to the convention from California's Napa Valley, called Palin "the Tea Party's inspiration."
Asked if Palin, who is considered a possible contender for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, should make a bid for the White House, Silleman said, "I would like to see her in a higher office but I don't know that she'll do it. I wouldn't want her to be hurt that bad."
Fremont Brown, a supporter who had "Palin 2012" bumper stickers with him, said Palin is "the right person."
"She has fervent heart and she's conservative," added the 59-year-old Brown, who owns a small business in North Carolina. "She was the only one truly qualified with executive experience of the four who ran in 2008. The others were glorified lobbyists."
If Palin does make a stab at presidential politics, she'll have a natural following among Tea Party activists, whose grassroots network is fueled by anger over the growth of the federal government and President Barack Obama's policies.
In a column earlier this week in USA Today, Palin said "the soul of the Tea Party is the people who belong to it, every day Americans who grow our food, run our small businesses, teach our children how to read, serve the less fortunate, and fight our wars."
Palin added that "they have the courage to stand up and speak out. Their vision is what drew me to the Tea Party movement. They believe in the same principles that guided my work in public service."
Neither the Tea Party Nation, the group that organized the convention, nor a Palin spokeswoman would confirm reports that the former governor is getting paid about $100,000 for her keynote appearance.
"I will not benefit financially from speaking at this event," Palin said in a statement this week. "Any compensation for my appearance will go right back to the cause."
In a blog post on the conservative Web site Townhall.com this past week, Palin said she looks forward to greater participation with the Tea Party movement in the coming weeks. She said she will be on hand next month for a kickoff rally for the third Tea Party Express cross country bus caravan. The event will take place March 27 in Searchlight, Nevada - the hometown of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who finds himself in a tough re-election battle this year.
Palin also said she will attend an April 14 Tea Party rally in Boston.
"The process may not always be pretty or perfect, but the message is loud and clear: We want a government worthy of the fine Americans that it serves," said Palin. "And we're going to keep spreading that message one convention, one town hall, one speech and one election at a time."
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national poll released Friday indicates that Americans are split Palin, with 43 percent seeing her in a positive light and 46 percent holding an unfavorable view.
"Opinion on Sarah Palin breaks down along party lines, with seven in ten Democrats disliking her and seven in ten Republicans with a positive view of Palin. She has a net-negative rating among Independents: 42 percent favorable and 47 percent unfavorable," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "She also continues to rate better among men than women."
Caitlyn Eubanks, 21, a Texas college student attending the Tea Party convention, said Palin is "a strong woman and she can take care of herself."
Asked if Palin should run for public office again, Eubanks' fiance, Brad Cornwell, a chemist who lives in Nashville, said, "I think it would certainly help her out if she would run for something and get more experience. It would get her more credence and a stronger track record."
–CNN's Alex Mooney contributed to this report
palin will probaly find some racist rednecks as well.
it was funny to see the people who are interviewed at the tea party.
i assume it would be a good time to burglarize a few trailers around the south.
dentists beware tea party goers obviously like to avaoid dental hygene evident by lack of teeth.
go u tea baggers!!!
I for one am shocked.
"She was the only one truly qualified with executive experience of the four who ran in 2008. The others were glorified lobbyists."
Palin quit her governorship when the going got tough and she started missing the limelight.
She OK'd the Bridge to Nowhere and then lied about it.
She took money from Alaska to pay for family expenses, including a housing allowance while she lived in her own home.
She is and always will be nothing more than a Quitter, a Liar and a Mooch.
Stupid Palin and stupid Tea Bag bigots. What a bunch of losers!!! All they do is spout the same vile, hateful rhetoric they hear on the Faux News Channel. What a horrible Channel. Traitors!!!!!
of course she does. The queen of clueless leading her nation.
there is a good cahnce she will find some racist red necks there as well.
it appears to be a good time to burglarize some mobile homes as i see faces in the crowd at tea bag alley .
also dentists be aware tea baggers have a dislike for you as well as shown by their lack of teeth.
go teab baggers go you are one funny silly little group of simpole minded twits
The fact that a Tea Party supporter believes that Palin "was the only one truly qualified with executive experience of the four who ran in 2008" should give you an idea of the intelligence level of this "new" political group.
What a bunch of idiots! I am terrified to to think our country is heading in this direction. With narrow minded and uneducated thinkers (and voters) such as these getting so much media attention, what else can we do but fail.
Can we have Obama debate Palin A.S.A.P so we can put this NONSENCE of Her Presidential bid behind us.
These people represent a major threat to democracy! Ever since losing the election 14 months ago they have been actively spreading lies and deceit. They are no better than rats and lice.
How more appropriate than an idiot-in-chief to inspire a mob of idiots.
Off topic, but hey, CNN moderators:
I have noticed you allowing multiple postings from some dispicable creature posting under "Pelosi is a see-you-en..." Why do you allow that to pass? What part of our political dialog does that help?
I know there is lots of vile stuff from right wingers on these fora, but really!
How about enforcing a little civility, just the midicum of cleaning out the most vulgar, vile right wing slime on your site?
Doesn't surprise me in the least she would be there... Since the Tea Party movement dropped their non-profit status it is all about the money now... The so called "cause" she is giving it back to is in it for the money... that is the reason the other politicians that are still in office have quit doing them...
It just amazes me the people who blindly follow these greedy people... they can point fingers and tell you what they think is wrong (like the people of this country aren't smart enough to know for themselves), but no ideal how to make it right so they just make all the money they can for as long as it will last...
One more question, since she isn't taking anything for this, does that mean she is paying her own expenses, or is she just taking the free expense paid trip as compensation???
Like moths surrounding the dim bulb...
"Tea Party activists, whose grassroots network is fueled by anger over the growth of the federal government and President Barack Obama's policies."
Judging by their lack of action during the last big growth in government, I'd say their anger is more likely fueled by President Obama's heritage than his policies.
I have noticed you allowing multiple postings from some dispicable creature posting under "Pelosi is a see-..." Why do you allow that to pass? What part of our political dialog does that help?
How about enforcing a little civility, just the modicum of cleaning out the most vulgar, vile right wing slime on your site?
Forget the Democrats and the GOP. Sarah Palin will be the first female President in 2013 representing the Tea Party!!
I wish she would stay in Alaska
With all Sarah's ethics violations and inquiries into her wrong doing, I can see why she is the darling of the tea baggers and right wingnuts. She is truly the centerfold for the republican culture of corruption.
Well, Moonbats tend to gravitate to one another...same with pedophiles and people with mental illness.
WOW !! 600 people..Losers !!!!!!
When Tancredo spoke about the uneducated he was obviously speaking about the Tea Partiers. Just look at who they're rallying around; Sarah Palin, the most uneducated and uninformed public figure there is, except for maybe Tancredo.
All you tea Party loonies please stand up. Anyone did, l guess not. What is the sad part of overall this is that the same conservatives were in power for almost 10 years in congress, had white house for eight years, and now are concerned about the debt. You do not get in debt overnight. l forgot you are conservative and know economy better. l am sick and tired of all this posturing including senator Gregg from New Hampshire. l did not hear him peep a word when previous president and congress were spending like drunken sailors. GOD forbid is to help middle class or poor, then you are trying to ruin America. By the way, 95% of America is middle and poor. So tea party loonies go and tea bag something, anything....
Its really sad, because a lot of well-meaning people in the tea party are being manipulated by the GOP – a party that has always only ever cared about Wall St. and the richest people in our country. These unfortunate tea party people are being taken advantage of again – if they think the GOP and people like Palin are going to look out for the working class, they are in for more disappointment.
You want a government worthy of the fine Americans it serves? I guess that doesn't apply to Alaska citizens, who were the victims of more ethics violations by it's former governor than Chicago at it's worst time in history.
By the way, ms palin: You call for Emmanuel to be fired for using the R word once, yet you have expressed no issues with limbaugh pummeling people with the R word numerous times since your feigned hysteria about Emanuel. Where is your integrity? I know. I should use words you can understand.
I bet she uses a teleprompter.