Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sarah Palin Talks Policy In Naples, Florida In Front Of A Sold-Out Crowd

Sarah Palin spoke to a sold out crowd today in Naples, Florida. From the News-Press:

She had lunch in New Delhi on Saturday and dinner in Jerusalem on Monday. And on Wednesday, she was in Naples, bringing her conservative message to a gathering of about 1,000 at the Ritz-Carlton.

The one-time vice presidential candidate and self-described Mama Grizzly from Alaska talked about her visit last week to India and Israel, recounted how her daughter wound up on "Dancing With the Stars" last year and gushed over the fine residents of Naples.

But mostly, she hammered away at President Barack Obama, especially his administration's economic and foreign policies.

It sounded a whole lot like a campaign speech for the 2012 presidential race, which Palin said was not the case — at this point.

"Tonight," she said before delivering her speech at the Naples Distinguished Speakers Series Town Hall event, "I will call it like I see it. I will be blunt and candid."

She didn't disappoint.

"The occupants of the White House do not have the concerns of Israel in their best interest," Palin said 48 hours after having dinner with Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister.

And then she got rolling around the globe ... Iran, Libya, Brazil, China.

Obama's recent trip to South America had her riled up over America's current energy policy.

"We have tens of billions of barrels of oil warehoused underground in Alaska," Palin said. "But the president goes to Brazil. It's gone from ‘Drill, Baby, Drill' to ‘Drill, Brazil, Drill.’"

Regarding Iran, she said the White House had a chance to make an impact there earlier this year during a student uprising, but passed.

She said the United States’ policy on Libya is inconsistent, and that she's concerned that China is building a vast arsenal of sophisticated submarines and aircraft.

Palin said the right foreign policy ought to be, "If you're in it, win it. If there's doubt, get out."

Palin said the nation's debt of more than a trillion dollars is the country's biggest threat.

"The president's budget was a political document," she said.

About a Democratic political slogan "Winning The Future," Palin energized the crowd.

"That is too easy ... the acronym WTF," she said, and the audience loved it.

Her speech was full of Palin-isms. From the Democrats’ "jack wagon ideas" to "only dead fish go with the flow."

The audience was made to order for Palin as Collier County is one of the most conservative areas in Florida.

Dick Jay, a retired football coach from Des Moines, Iowa, and an avid Republican, liked what he heard.

"I came to hear what she had to say," the 30-year Naples resident said. But Jay said he isn't sure who might make the best Republican candidate in 2012.

Might Palin be one of the contenders?

"We're all pretty much saying the same thing right now," Palin said. "I am thinking about it ... praying about it."

She said her experience in the 2008 campaign was tough on her family, and any decision will come with them in mind.

"Family is paramount," Palin said.

"One thing is for sure. I will stay engaged." adds:

The question on everyone’s mind loomed throughout Sarah Palin’s hour-long appearance in North Naples on Wednesday: Will Floridians see more of the former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate in 2012?

The answer was simple: You betcha.

"I’m thinking about it and praying about it," Palin said when asked whether she’d run for president in 2012. "(But) whether I’m a candidate or not … I’m going to stay engaged."

Palin spoke to a sold-out audience Wednesday as part of the Naples Town Hall Distinguished Speakers Series at the Ritz Carlton Naples Beach Resort. Her speech focused on issues facing the United States as the country enters what is expected to be a heated election season.

"America faces real threats, and to face these threats we need unapologetic leadership," she said. "(People say) there’s a lack of leadership, but that’s nothing another election can’t turn around. My faith is not in big government. It’s in the people. And the people will turn it around."

Palin’s appearance was her first U.S. appearance after a whirlwind trip to India – where she was the keynote speaker for the India Today Conclave – and Israel last week. While in Israel, Palin said she met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and spoke to him about her commitment to the country.

"So many Americans stand with them," Palin said of Israel. "It is in the interest of freedom, peace and security that I say we must stand with them."

While Palin spoke briefly about her trip abroad, she focused primarily on domestic affairs and the current state of the economy. She promised to keep things real as she spoke about the issues that faced Americans.

"I call it like I see it," she said. "If the press is here, we’ll deal with the press later. But I’ll be blunt and candid with you."

The country, Palin said, is in the midst of "a dangerous and unsustainable federal debt" crisis that needs to be corrected before any change can occur. Palin said the country would be in serious trouble if it loses its AAA bond rating, and as debt grows she said she was concerned the country wouldn’t be able to dig itself out.

"Politicians are patting themselves on the back for cutting $6 billion when borrowing $400 billion to keep the country afloat," she said. "We’re not heading toward the iceberg, we’ve hit the iceberg."

Palin criticized President Barack Obama for his position on the federal debt, said he "just doesn’t care" and called his proposed 2012 budget—themed ‘winning the future’—a "political document." She went on to say that after submitting a budget to Congress, the president "went AWOL on spending."

"Under the guise of winning the future, which I call WTF, we’re spending more money," she said. "We’re not getting the economic truth out of the White House. ...If this is winning the future, then what is the future?"

Palin praised Florida Gov. Rick Scott for saying "no thanks on excess" when he turned down federal dollars for high speed rail in Florida.

Palin’s concerns weren’t just about the economy. She spoke out against the president’s energy plan, particularly the fact that the "president and (his party) continue to lock up offshore drilling" in the United States. Instead, she said, the administration is supporting drilling overseas.

"The ‘Drill, baby, drill’ mantra has turned into ‘Drill, Brazil, drill,’" she said. "In Alaska, Louisiana, Wyoming, the Dakotas — there are so many other places I’d like to see the president rooting for than another country."

Policy and a potential presidential run weren’t the only matters on Palin’s agenda Tuesday. She also gave those in attendance a peek into her personal life with stories about her husband, Todd, and oldest daughter, Bristol.

Bonita Springs resident Terry Major said she thought the event was interesting, particularly as a way to compare Palin to her portrayal in the media. Major said she enjoyed the lecture and was pleased to see the real Palin.

"I was impressed," she said.

Later Wednesday evening, Sarah went On The Record with Greta for a lengthy interview. {report to follow]

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