Palin positions herself as populist outsider in Iowa speech
September 3rd, 2011
05:11 PM ET
12 years ago

Palin positions herself as populist outsider in Iowa speech

Indianola, Iowa (CNN) - Sarah Palin took sharp aim at President Barack Obama and at least one of her potential Republican rivals Saturday at a rain-soaked tea party rally in Iowa, the state that will open the GOP nomination fight early next year.

The former Alaska governor, speaking on the third anniversary of the Republican National Convention speech that transformed her into a conservative darling and global celebrity, did not announce a presidential campaign of her own.

But with a flurry of named and unnamed attacks against the president and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the GOP front-runner, Palin aggressively sought to define herself as a populist tea party outsider who would run against “the permanent political class” and “good ole boy politics as usual.”

“The status quo is no longer an option,” she declared to roughly 2,000 admiring supporters, some of whom traveled from as far as San Diego, Dallas and New Orleans for the rally.

Palin urged tea party activists to fight against President Obama and the “special interests” in Washington until “the permanent political class” is thrown out of power.

And for the first time, Palin outlined the makings of a five-point recovery plan for the nation’s flagging economy, albeit in very broad strokes.

Calling it a “pro-working man’s plan,” Palin rattled off a series of familiar and somewhat vague free-market proposals, such as repealing the Obama health care law, rolling back federal regulations, boosting domestic energy production and transferring more spending authority to state capitals.

But for a Republican who has been accused of offering little more than platitudes in the public arena, she did veer into specifics.

Palin, who famously raised taxes on oil industry while governor, proposed eliminating all corporate income taxes, claiming that lost revenue would be balanced out by closing corporate loopholes in the federal tax code.

“This is how we break the back of crony capitalism,” she said, sounding very much like the maverick politician who made a name for herself in Alaska by taking on an entrenched and sometimes corrupt Republican political class that was in cahoots with the oil and gas industry.

It was that theme of “crony capitalism” that led her into a series of barely veiled criticisms of Perry, who would be one of Palin’s most direct rivals in the race if she decides to run.

Palin allies had hinted to reporters before the speech that she would draw a stark contrast between her record and that of Perry, an impressive fund-raiser who has long been criticized by political foes of rewarding his campaign donors and political allies with government contracts and posts.

She did not mention Perry by name, but it was clear who was on her mind when she dressed down the current Republican field and questioned their willingness to return government power to the people.

“Some GOP candidates, they also raise mammoth amounts of cash,” she said. “We need ask them, too: What, if anything, do their donors expect from their investments? We need to know this because our country can’t afford more trillion-dollar thank you notes to campaign backers.”

Palin, who is expected to make a final decision about the race by October, told the crowd, “You must vet a candidate’s record.”

“Our challenge is not just to replace Obama in 2012, but the real challenge is, who and what we will replace him with?” she asked. “Because it’s not enough to just change up the uniform. If we don’t change the team and the game plan, we won’t change the country.”

Speaking briefly to reporters on a rope line after leaving the stage, Palin would not say whether her comments were directed at Perry.

“I want all of our GOP candidates to take the opportunity to kill corporate capitalism that is leading to this cronyism that is killing our economy,” Palin said. “They all have an opportunity to speak out against it. That’s what I want them to do.”

In her speech, she seemed as fed up with her own party as she is with Democrats.

She chided GOP candidates for delivering conservatives rhetoric on the campaign trail but failing to live up to those promises in Washington.

Palin also mocked Republicans who have spoken ill of the tea party movement, namely those who label tea partiers “hobbits.”

That was a jab plainly directed at the man who plucked Palin from obscurity and placed her on the 2008 presidential ticket: Arizona Sen. John McCain, who criticized “tea party hobbits” in a Senate floor speech during the debt ceiling debate.

Thunderstorms moved through Indianola in the hours before the much-anticipated event, organized by a newly formed group called “Tea Party of America,” sending drenched Palin supporters running for cover.

But the rain clouds parted for a time when Palin took the stage, drawing rally-goers out of their cars and back to the event site for the speech. Her speech was organized by a newly formed group called Tea Party of America.

Palin now heads to the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire, where she will headline a rally sponsored by the Tea Party Express.

Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • Sarah Palin • Tea Party
soundoff (349 Responses)
  1. pockets

    She holds NO office, she looks "older" by the day, makes stupid statements, has nothing positive to say about anyone or anything, why bother to give her the time of day??? At the end of the day, she is redundent.

    September 4, 2011 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  2. Hair bear

    Ok palin loosen up dump the GOP and run on your own ticket. What are u waiten for do something. The GOP is not going to pick u. This perry and Romney guy have u beat. You can give them a run for the money by forming your own ticket, go for it.

    September 4, 2011 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  3. Olaoye

    This reporter, Peter hamby is absolutely biased in the reporting. I am sick of Palin Haters with their derogatory write ups.
    Not all your readers are morons. Some of us read between the lines. Stop spewing hatred and be impartial in your presentations.

    September 4, 2011 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  4. Rocccky

    Wow. Is this the Sarah Palin we all know. What has she been drinking? I'm somewhat IMPRESSED...

    September 4, 2011 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  5. Edward

    She is awesome!!!!

    September 4, 2011 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  6. John

    Because a black president is the status quo...

    September 4, 2011 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  7. m.e. smith

    Sarah Palin means well with the sound bites. But like it has been said before campaigning and governance are two difference animals. Pres. Obama has been dealt a hand that is not good and the only thing needed to be done is to fold but when the buck stops at your desk u can't.

    September 4, 2011 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  8. Nick

    I believe she doesn't know what Palin is talking about. She disses the Senator John McCain who made her his Vice President... Oh the Irony!

    September 4, 2011 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  9. Steve LoughtoN

    I want to have sex with Sarah Palin. Awesome unprotected sex at that.

    September 4, 2011 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  10. hwy9

    More and more, when I see Palin, I think of Peg Bundy....

    September 4, 2011 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  11. stormsun

    Glib and vacuous, Palin never ceases to baffle those looking for substance. But even for her, these comments were real head-shakers: “You must vet a candidate’s record.” Okay, Sarah; we've vetted YOUR record, and beyond quitting in the middle of your term as governor of Alaska, there seems to be exactly...nothing. Next candidate, please.

    September 4, 2011 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  12. CellarRat

    Where is this lunatic Tea Party getting their funding? That's what scares me the most. That the fools that could support this hypocritical quitter and media whore actually have enough cash to fund rallies and campaigns. And enough money to garner the media attention she so desperately craves. There may be nothing more dangerous than fools with money and influence. Makes my blood run cold...

    September 4, 2011 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  13. thebeerdude

    She is a mental person. Sara Palin is what you get when you put a soccer mom into a position of authority. She is white trash from Alaska and it's actually documented that she lost to a grizzly bear at a game of Trivial Pursuit.

    September 4, 2011 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  14. 66Biker

    Every time you speak I regret voting for you in 2008 more and more. Rest assured I won't make that mistake again.

    September 4, 2011 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  15. sapsxy

    Hi American people..if you care about your nation-then please stop voting for idiotic persons like Sarah Palins, and others...who are just interested in stamping "their history record" in the civilisation of American nation.Its rather pity and pathetic-that you all voting americans dont have a third indepedent party that can elect educated experienced people with BEST run your nation,who are prepared to make tough decisions.

    September 4, 2011 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  16. Jeff S

    If Sarah Palin wasn't a proponent of government control over personal choice, she might be considered at least partially conservative. These Big Brother Republicans are the very antithesis of "Conservative." I truly believe her only purpose is to dilute and derail the original spirit of the modern "tea party."

    September 4, 2011 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  17. Marry

    All this nonsense Palin and the other GOP/TP’s are spreading and finding people who listen is scary! These useless hicks can only do one thing: Tear the country down with their loathing of the President and the primitive stance they put up! So sad! If the more thoughtful citizen does not get overwhelmingly involved, the US is going to be in bigger trouble than most can imagine. And they will not be able to say: How could we have known? What is playing out there is all too obvious!

    September 4, 2011 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  18. Karen Ellison

    I don't follow a lot on CNN, but you've hit one outta' the park with your Sarah Palin article! Thanks, a Sarah supporter.

    September 4, 2011 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  19. ahemahem

    I'd like to see her farther outside. Really far.

    September 4, 2011 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  20. TampaMel

    It does not matter whether you think President Obama is a good president or the worst ever. The people who make the laws and have the REAL power to put people to work are in Congress. If we vote in the Tea Party or anyone with the same views we are just going to be the western version of Japan. They are in their third decade of recession because their legislators cannot get anything done. The Tea Party and many Republicans are good with doing nothing as long as their taxes don't go up. If you're a Tea Party member, a Republican, oh yes and a Libertarian you probably have a job and any help from the government is not necessary. For me, I have a good job and have been a Republican voter for a long time and I am saying, "Elect only the Democrats. Make sure they are a super majority (more than 60% of each house) and make sure the president is a Democrat". In the 1930s, the last time the US was in economic trouble this deep, the Congress and the president worked together to fix the economy. We need that to happen now or face really bad time ahead.

    September 4, 2011 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  21. Emerson C

    Gov Palin did not impose any 'tax' on the oil industry in Alaska. The oil industry pays a royalty to the people of Alaska who have title of ownership of all underground resources in that state.

    I no sense either is Palin a 'populist politician. For instance during her 2006 campaign for governor he adressed a group of fishermen who pressed her for certain concessions. Since she refused to do this she said so up front and stated that in that case they would vote for her opponent. A 'populist' politician would not have been so upfront. A 'populist' would have talked out of both sides of their mouth.

    September 4, 2011 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
  22. NoGr8rH8r

    Yeah, she's out there. Way out there.

    September 4, 2011 02:55 am at 2:55 am |
  23. Scott A

    Palin's not that much of an outsider. She has an IQ of about 85 and takes her cues from aides that follow her around rather than thinking for herself. Not that she has a decent mind to think with – she is full of hate. Just because she's able to smile doesn't mean she's a nice person, it just means evil people like her are capable of feeling good about themselves. She's not an outsider because there are plenty of others like her and those are the ones who will vote for her – people with less than a 100 IQ who could care less about right and wrong. Greed and hate – that's all Palins supporters care about. I have over 3 years of her being in the national spotlight to be able to contradict anyone who says otherwise.

    September 4, 2011 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  24. Dave in Arizona

    Just watching stills of her speaking makes me think my IQ is dropping...

    September 4, 2011 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  25. Michael

    She wants the Tea-Baggers to fight against the "special interests" in Washington. What about the far-right "special interests?" No, no, no. They can do whatever the he11 they want.

    September 4, 2011 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
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