February 6th, 2010
04:12 PM ET
4 years ago

Palin finds strong supporters in Tea Party crowd

Tea Party Convention goers are eagerly awaiting Sarah Palin's keynote address.
Tea Party Convention goers are eagerly awaiting Sarah Palin's keynote address.

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


Filed under: Sarah Palin
soundoff (169 Responses)
  1. Libertarian

    I feel bad for the attendees. I KNOW their hearts are in the right place but I can't help but think they have just falled for the biggest SCAM ever. Doesn't the parties FOR-PROFIT status say anything about them? and Palin getting $115K just for coming? Did they forget she QUIT HER JOB to make more money for herself and foresaked her home state?

    This SCAM is going to make people forget about the wool Bernie Madoff pulled over some eyes. Just write your checks directly to the "Tea Party" leadership.

    February 6, 2010 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  2. Doraine Gordon

    Not going to happen! As for her executive experience it didn't help her any. She just isn't a very smart woman. She is a fast talker and that's all. Anyone who thinks Palin will ever be President is dreaming. I think she conned her way into being John's running mate. She decided there were big bucks in playing with the Big Boys. So she hightailed it back to Alaska, quit her job and got involved in Big Boy Politics. She fits right in with them too because she can lie just as big as the next one. BUT SHE IS SO DUMB SHE HURTS!!!!!

    February 6, 2010 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  3. Jay

    Please run in 2012. I hope you win. But my reason is not because I support you or your stupid and uneducated Tea Party. I think you and your followers are a cancer to intelligent society.

    I hope you win because I guess this country doesn't want good presidents that move this country forward and make it better for its citizens and not just fatcat individuals and corporations. I guess people haven't learned their lesson with that imbecile Bush. They have forgotten so quickly what happened that they seem ready (with the help of Fixed "News") to put Republicans/Conservatives back into power. What did we get as a result? Huge deficits, the highest unemployment in 70 years, 2 wars that we clearly gained nothing from, etc.

    I hope you win. Now with the Supreme Court's decision to allow corporations to decide elections I don't think the Democrats (the clearly more rational party between the two) have a prayer of a chance.

    When you win your stupidity will cause the collapse of this country. Then people will learn that idiocy is not good in the White House. That good men like Obama is truly what is needed.

    But I think 25% unemployment will make people better understand who (idiots like Palin and Tea Party imbeciles) shouldn't be our leaders.

    Palin 2012.

    February 6, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  4. david moore

    That which Mrs. Pallin will be attending in Tenn., can best be described as; "A Star Trek Convention, sponsored by the Ku Klux Klan".
    What better venue could there be for the Pallin's of this world.

    February 6, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  5. ken from holland, pa

    even though she likes to spend tax payer money on important things like tanning beds and jet trips for her kids. quite the fiscal conservative. oh, that's right, the same fiscal conservative that taxes the oil companies like crazy. total hypocrosy. she is the pied piper of the idiot rebellion.

    February 6, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  6. RFK

    It appears that she is positioning herself to be on the 2012 presidential ticket as the Tea Party candidate. It is her dream to be in front of cheering crowds that adore her. Sadly the reason they admire her so much is that she reaffirms their own mediocrity. Doubt me; I will wager this article will have several posts about how much more qualified she is than President Obama because she has ‘common sense’ – code words for I don’t need no fancy book lernin’.

    Of course she will drop out of the race before she has to participate in one of those ‘gotcha’ debates where you have to be informed on topics and not just recite bumper stickers. In the process she will pocket a few more million dollars from those that rant about wasteful spending.

    February 6, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  7. Dave T

    Please Sarah, save us from the Socialists and Russians. Palin for President 2012. Run Baby Run .... if Limbaugh says it's OK.

    February 6, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  8. Tammy

    Can't wait for her to speak extemporaneously on concrete issues and solutions. I want to see specific points, reasons, concrete plans. All this airy-fairy mumbo-jumbo may rile up the patriots, but nothing is really being said. They just don't want a black guy in the White House! And all the opposition to any woman running - whooooeeee! This one will spoil it for any woman in the next century! Well, the men have done such excellent job over the other terms....

    February 6, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  9. Sean O'Brien

    If a bunch of "tea partiers" were on a plane and the cabin crew were all taken ill and unable to pilot the craft, would they choose a passenger who was a qualified pilot to land the plane, or would they all express sentiments such as "I don't want nobody who went to one of those fancy east coast, eelite flyin' schools to land this thing...I want somebody who's just like me!!" I swear I don't understand why these people hate those who exhibit intellectual prowess.

    February 6, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  10. James

    What Tea Party? Oh, the media covered Palin fan club with rejected Republican has' beens. I really think a Tea Party is a good thing, but you had better check the guest list or its just another Republican con job.

    February 6, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  11. harold

    Watch what Sarah says tongiht.. Will she say cut Government in half.. Let half the government employees go?.. It would help the employment situation in the USA....No?..Cut regulations and have a repeat of Republican 8 year rule recently bringing capitalism down for sure..Cut taxes in half?.. All this stuff she will say no doubt.. And just maybe she will call for the Republcans to balance the Budget which they last accomplished in 1930...See historynet.com..So Sarah feed those tea bags some Tea and sympathy will ya?

    February 6, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  12. joel palmer

    Of course there is a kinship; they have so much in common: ignorance; arrogance; greed; stupidity; prejudice; disdain for facts; and an absolute aversion to working hard to solve real problems

    February 6, 2010 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  13. Colorado Voter

    HAhahahahahaah!!!

    The so-called Tea Party Movement, which doesn't have a clue what it is and where it's going has got exactly the Right Mascot in Palin.

    Hahahahahahaahahahaha. What a train wreck. Hahahahahahaaha.

    It really is funny because this is a rally of the "29%" that will believe anything!!!

    What a bunch of DOPES! Do they even KNOW what the origin of "Tea Party" is? Probably less than the term "Tea Bagging"! Hahahahaha.

    February 6, 2010 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  14. Donald, Cameron, NC

    Sarah Palin is typical of what's wrong with politicians in this country - they're only in it for financial gain, narcisstic tendencies, and free-loading off the ones who "believe" in their extreme ideas, sic.

    The only executive experience she has in hood-winking the people of Alaska, lying, and doing everyhting she is supposedly againest in government and her opponents.

    When will her so-called supporters open their eyes and recognize her and others for what they truly are - they are the enemy of democracy and this country!!!

    February 6, 2010 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  15. John

    Though the liberal media always tries to bring down Republicans by tying them all to Sarah Palin, I think she is great but will never get the nomination in 2012, but she does unite conservatives and we have her and Obama's wild liberal incompetent ways to thank for the TEA party and the resurrection of the Republicans

    Obama has become all talk and has become exposed himself as to young and inexperienced, we voted for him because we wanted change and to prove we were not racist, and those were stupid reasons. I will be back in the GOP along with my family and friends, we have learned our lesson

    February 6, 2010 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  16. Diane Portland Oregon

    After hearing the racist comments that have already come from this group, CNN should be ashamed to view her speech in full. Is there no limit to what CNN will do for money? I never thought I would see the day when a speech against our President by the KKK was broadcast live as a good thing. Disgusting!!

    February 6, 2010 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  17. Randy, San Francisco

    Presidential elections are won by winning the majority of voters in the center of the political spectrum. Palin is so far to the extreme right that any attempt to move towards the center will be problematic. Hopefully her time on the national political stage is a short one and only requires a brief footnote.

    February 6, 2010 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  18. Thezr

    These people are not protesting Obama's policys. They are protesting his skin color.

    February 6, 2010 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  19. Lisa Santana

    As a Native American I am dismayed that Palin and others chose to use the Tea Party as their theme for their protest. Protesters involved in the Boston Tea Party tried to disguise themselves as American Indians while dumping tea into the harbor. A protest is a protest call it that.

    February 6, 2010 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  20. Luvinia Knight

    Palin will never run for anything but the top job. Her comments lead me to believe she doesn't think she needs to learn anything more by occupying anything lesser. Confidence plus ignorance is a dangerous combination.

    February 6, 2010 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  21. GI Joe

    Will Sara's followers wear their sheets and hoods tonight? Or do they only wear those in private, afraid someone will find out who they really are.

    February 6, 2010 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  22. carlos

    600 followers?....come on...now we know that todd palin was running the alaska governor`s office.....because she couldn`t??????.....but they are not saying how much did he take from the alaska treasury......let`s find out.........ethical??????? after all he is unemployed.......he is the nanny in that household.......bunch of f.....g hypocrites.....and the baggers,well that is another imbecility.......

    February 6, 2010 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  23. veritas

    I'm sorry.............Tell me again how Palin is going to return her $100,000 speaking fee, plus "expenses" (Neiman Marcus I assume) to the movement?

    February 6, 2010 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  24. Bill, NY

    I say elect the dummy in 2012 and put this country out of its misery. Palin can definately finish the job started by Bush-Cheney. I find nothing conservative about these yahoos. Palin is among like minded folks. They are ignorant and misinformed.

    February 6, 2010 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  25. Aunt Bea and Opie

    We feel sorry for real teabaggers they have a right to dissent,but the neocons stole even their platform and are using it to undermine our government.We have no room for traitors like Dick Armey and Sarah the liar.

    February 6, 2010 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
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