[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/06/art.program.cnn.jpg caption="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.