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Sarah Palin Speaks at Tea Party Convention

Aired February 06, 2010 - 21:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Don Lemon here at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

Moments from now, former Republican vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, will address a national tea party convention in Nashville, Tennessee. You are looking at live pictures from the room. She should step up to the podium at any moment. We are being told by our people on the ground that Sarah Palin is in the room. And she's going to be introduced in a little bit by Andrew Bipart (ph) in that room.

We are going to get a preview of what is going on as we take a look at these pictures. You won't miss a moment of the speech.

We want to go to Mary Snow and Juan Carlos Lopez with CNN in Espanol. They're standing by for us in Nashville tonight.

Guys, we're hearing that Sarah Palin is in the room. People are anticipating her speech.

I'll start with you, Mary. These people who are gathering in this room tonight, if you have been able to attend any of the events, this one will probably be the most well attended event of this convention.

MARY SNOW, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Absolutely, Don. There are about 1,100 people in that room, that's 500 more than attended this conversation over the last couple of days. Some people told me a few days ago, they came to this convention because of Sarah Palin. They wanted to hear her speak tonight.

In terms of what they want to hear from her, is how the tea party moves forward. Don, we have already heard from Sarah Palin this week. She wrote an op-ed for "USA Today" pointing out that she is going to be participating in other tea party events, the Tea Party Express and a Boston rally moving forward. She said in the op-ed, the people here, the movement is the soul of this movement, and that she shares the same principles, so aligning herself with the people gathered here tonight.

LEMON: I want to ask Juan Carlos about Hispanics, when it comes to their support of tea parties. We have been talking about a lot of Independent voters. We know there has been a lot of support among Latinos, Hispanics for Republicans in the past, but then immigration issues may have changed that. What about now with this tea party movement and at the tea party convention? What is the presence there, if any?

JUAN CARLOS LOPEZ, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's -- I just found one person who spoke Spanish. Someone who came from Utah. She was of Cuban descent.

I think it is important to clear out that, first of all, this isn't a party. This isn't a real convention. This is a slice of the tea party movement. So maybe outside in the states you will see Hispanics joining the tea party people and gather with the tea party people, but not here. We didn't see a big presentation of minorities discussing issues. Immigration was discussed. It was presented in a different tone. It was presented as a problem of legal and illegal issues. So a lot of interesting arguments but obviously not a party, not a big presence of minorities here.

LEMON: Listen, I just to ask you guys...


LEMON: Go ahead, Mary. Sorry. I didn't mean to cut you off. Go ahead.

SNOW: Just to add to what Juan was saying, in terms of age groups too, we spoke to one couple in their 30s and they felt they were among the youngest attending this convention. Most of the people we've been seeing are middle aged and older.


Listen, I'm going to tell our viewers, just to remind them, any minute now Sarah Palin is going to step up to the podium and give the keynote speech at the tea party convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Two of our finest are on the ground there, Mary Snow, part of the best political team on television, as were as Juan Carlos, with CNN en Espanol. Again, Sarah Palin speaking at any moment.

Often, I'm with you guys reporting on stories. And there are always moments that really kind of catch me. Since you have been there reporting on this, Mary, have you noticed anything -- is there anything that stands out to you about the crowd, about the convention, about the circumstances surrounding it?

SNOW: Yes. The one thing that has really struck me is the fact the people who came here said they weren't politically active up until now. They came here to learn. This is a very different tone from some of the protests and rallies we've seen over the past year. However, while there were all these...

LEMON: Mary? Mary, I'm going to have to cut you off.

Sarah Palin is taking the stage in Nashville. She is about to give the keynote address at this dinner tonight in Nashville.

Let's listen in, everyone.



Thank you very much. Thank you.


Thank you so much. God bless you.


Thank you. Thank you so much.


I am so proud to be an American.


Thank you so much for being here tonight.


Do you love your freedom? If you love your freedom, think of it. Any of you here serving in uniform, past or present, raise your hand? We are going to thank you for our freedom. God bless you guys. We salute you. We honor you. Thank you.


I am so proud to be American. Thank you. Gosh. Thank you. Happy birthday, Ronald Reagan.


Well, a special hello to the C-SPAN viewers. You may not be welcome in those health care negotiations but you have an invitation to the tea party.


Very good to be here in Tennessee, the volunteer state. It's the home of good country music and good southern barbecue, and great to be at the tea party convention. I guess down here that's some southern sweet tea. In Alaska, we have a smaller version of tea party up there. And we call it iced tea.


And I am a big supporter of this movement. I believe in this movement. Got lots of friends and family in the lower 48 attending these events across the country, and just knowing that this is the movement, and America is ready for another revolution, and you are a part of this.


I look forward to attending more tea party events in the near future. It is so inspiring to see real people, not politicos --


-- not inside the beltway professionals come out and stand up and speak out for commonsense, conservative principles.

And today, I want to start off with a special shout out to America's newest Senator. Thanks to you, Scott Brown.


Now in many ways Scott Brown represents what this beautiful movement is all about. He was just a guy with a truck and a passion to serve our country. He looked around and he saw that things weren't quite right in Washington, so he stood up and he decided he was going do his part to put our government back on the side of the people. And it took guts and it took a lot of hard work, but with grassroots support, Scott Brown carried the day. It has been so interesting now to watch the aftermath of the Massachusetts shout-out revolution.

The White House blames the candidate. Their candidate. And Nancy Pelosi, she blamed the Senate Democrats. And Rahm Emanuel, he criticized a pollster.


And yet again, President Obama found some way to make this all about George Bush.


You know considering the reason conservative elections sweep, it is time to stop that they blaming everyone else. When you are zero for three, you better stop lecturing and start listening.


The only place that the left hasn't placed the blame is on their agenda. So some advice for our friends on that side of the aisle. That's where you've got to look because that's what got you into this mess. The Obama/Pelosi/Reid agenda will leave us less secure, more in debt and under the thumb of big government. That is out of touch and is out of date. And if Scott Brown is any indication, it is running out of time.


Because from Virginia to New Jersey to Massachusetts, voters are sending a message up and down the east coast, and in good places like Nevada and Connecticut and Colorado, Michigan, North Dakota, they've got the liberal left, that establishment running scared.

The bottom line is this. It's been a year now. They own this now. and voters are going to hold them accountable. Because out here in the cities and in the towns across this great country we know that we've got some big problems to solve. We've gotten tired now of looking backward. We want to look forward and, from here, my friends, the future, it looks really good. It looks really good. Because if there is hope in Massachusetts, there's hope everywhere.


Brown's victory, it's exciting and it's a sign of more good things to come. A lot of great common-sense conservative candidates are going to put it all on the line in 2010. This year, there are going to be tough primaries. And I think that's good. Competition in these primaries is good. Competition makes us work harder and be more efficient and produce more. I hope you will get out there and work hard for the candidates who reflect your values, your priorities, because despite what the pundits want you to think, contested primaries aren't civil war. They're democracy at work and that's beautiful.


I was the product of a competitive primary running for governor. I faced five guys in the party and we put our ideas and our experience out there on the table for debate. And then we allowed, of course, the voters to decide. That is a healthy process. And it gives Americans the kind of leadership that they want and they deserve. And so in 2010, I tip my hat to anyone with the courage to throw theirs in the ring and may the best ideas and candidates win.

But while I hope you give the candidates that you choose your best effort, please understand they're human. There's no perfect candidate. And they're going to disappoint occasionally. And when they do, let them know, but don't get discouraged and sit it out, because the stakes are too high. The stakes are too high right now, and your voice is too important, so work hard for these candidates but put your faith in ideas.

And in that spirit, I caution against allowing this movement to be defined by any one leader or politician. The tea party movement is not a top-down operation. It's a ground-up call to action that is forcing both parties to change the way they're doing business, and that's beautiful.


This is about the people. This is about the people. And it's bigger than any king or queen of a tea party. And it's a lot bigger than any charismatic guy with a teleprompter.


The soul of this movement is the people, everyday Americans, who grow our food and run our small businesses, who teach our kids and fight our wars. They're folks in small towns and cities across this great nation who saw what was happening and they saw and were concerned and they got involved. Like you, they go to town hall meetings and they write op-eds. They run for local office. You all have the courage to stand up and speak out. You have a vision for the future, one that values conservative principles and commonsense solutions. And if that sounds like you, then you probably, too, are feeling a bit discouraged by what you see in Washington, D.C.

Now in recent weeks, many of us have grown even more uneasy about our administration's approach to national security, the most important role ascribed to our federal government.


Let me say, too, it's not politicizing our security to discuss our concerns because Americans deserve to know the truth about the threats that we face and what the administration is or isn't doing about them. So let's talk about them. New terms used like "overseas contingency operation" instead of the word "war." That reflects a world view that is out of touch with the enemy that we face. We can't spin our way out of this threat. It is one thing to call a pay raise a job created or saved. It is quite another to call the devastation that a homicide bomber can inflict a "manmade disaster." I just say, come on, Washington, if no where else, national security, that is one place where you've got to call it like it is.


And in that spirit, in that spirit, we should acknowledge that, on Christmas day, the system did not work. Abdulmutallab passed through airport security with a bomb. and he boarded a flight hell bent on killing innocent passengers. This terrorist trained in Yemen with al Qaeda. His American visa was not revoked until after he tried to kill hundreds of passengers. On Christmas day, the only thing that stopped this terrorist is blind luck and brave passengers. It was a Christmas miracle. And that is not the way that the system is supposed to work.


What followed was equally disturbing after he was captured. He was questioned for only 50 minutes. We have a choice in how to do this. The choice was only question him for 50 minutes and then read his Miranda rights. The administration says then there are no downsides or upsides to treating terrorists like civilian criminal defendants. But a lot of us would beg to differ. For example, there are questions we would have liked this foreign terrorist to answer before he lawyered up and invoked our U.S. constitutional right to remain silent.


Our U.S. constitutional rights.


Our rights that you, sir, fought and were willing to die for to protect in our Constitution.


The rights that my son, as an infantryman in the United States Army, is willing to die for. The protections provided, thanks to you, sir, we're going to bestow them on a terrorist who hates our Constitution and tries to destroy our Constitution and our country. This makes no sense because we have a choice in how we're going to deal with the terrorists. We don't have to go down that road. There are questions that we would have liked answered before he lawyered up, like where exactly were you trained and by whom. You are bragging about all these other terrorists just like you, who are they? When and where will they try to strike next?

The events surrounding the Christmas day plot reflect the kind of thinking that led to September 11th. The threat then, as the "USS Cole" was attacked, our embassies were attacked, it was treated like an international crime spree not like an act of war. We are seeing that mindset again settle into Washington again. That scares me for my children, for your children. Treating this as a mere law enforcement matter places our country at great risks because that is not how radical Islamic extremists look at this. They know we are at war. To win that war, we need a commander in chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern.


It's that same kind of misguided thinking that is seen throughout the administration's foreign policy decisions. Our president spent a year reaching out to hostile regimes, writing personal letters to dangerous dictators and apologizing for America, and what do we have to show for that? Here's what we have to show. North Korea tested nuclear weapons and longer-range ballistic missiles. Israel, a friend and critical ally, now questions the strength of our support. Plans for a missile defense system in Europe, they've been scrapped. Relations with China and Russia are no better. and relations with Japan, that key Asian ally, they are in the worst shape in years. And around the world, people who are seeking freedom from oppressive regimes wonder if Alaska is still that beacon of hope for their cause. The administration cut support for democracy programs. And where the president has not been clear, I ask where is his clear and where his strong voice of support for the Iranians who are risking all in their opposition to Ahmadinejad?


Just that short list, that short list. And you know, it is no wonder that our president only spent 9 percent of his State of the Union address discussing national security, foreign policy, because there aren't a lot of victories he could talk about that night. And that is a short list. There are so many challenges in front of us. And it can seem overwhelming. But despite these challenges, we have hope that we can move things in the right direction but it is going to require the administration to change course. We need a foreign policy that distinguishes America's friends from her enemies and recognizes the true nature of the threats that we face.

(APPLAUSE) We need a strong national defense. I think you would agree with me. As Reagan used to talk about that peace through strength. In that respect, I applaud the president for following at least a part of the recommendations made by our commanders on the ground to send in some more reinforcements to Afghanistan. Now, though, he, we, must spend less time courting our adversaries and working with our allies. And we must build coalitions capable of confronting dangerous regimes like Iran and North Korea. It is time for more than just tough talk. I'm just like you, probably so tired of hearing the talk, talk, talk.


Tired of hearing the talk.


It's time for some tough actions, like sanctions on Iran. And in places in the world where people are struggling and oppressed and they're fighting for freedom, America must stand with them. We need a clear foreign policy that stands with the people and for democracy, one that reflects both our values and our interests. And it is in our best interest because democracies, they don't go to war with each other. They can settle their differences peacefully.

The lesson of the last year is this. Foreign policy can't be managed through the politics of personality. And our president would do well to take note of an observation John F. Kennedy made once he was in office, that all of the world's problems aren't his predecessor's fault.


The problems that we face in the real world require real solutions and we'd better get to it because the risks that they pose are great and they're grave. However, as Barry Goldwater said, we can be conquered by bombs, but we can also be conquered by neglect, by ignoring our Constitution and disregarding the principles of limited government. And in the past year, his words ring true. Washington has now replaced private irresponsibility with public irresponsibility. The list of companies and industries that the government is crowding out and bailing out and taking over, it continues to grow. First, it was the banks, mortgage companies, financial institutions, then automakers. Soon, if they had their way, health care, student loans. Today, in the words of Congressman Paul Ryan, the $700 billion TARP has morphed into crony capitalism at its worse. It is becoming a slush fund for the Treasury Department's favorite big players, just as we had been warned about. While people on main street look for jobs, people on Wall Street, they're collecting billions and billions in your bailout bonuses. Among the top 17 companies that received your bailout money, 92 percent of the senior officers and directors, they still have their good jobs. And everyday Americans are wondering, where are the consequences for them helping to get us into this worst economic situation since the great depression? Where are the consequences?

(APPLAUSE) When Washington passed a $787 billion stimulus bill, we were nervous because they just spent $700 billion to bailout Wall Street. On the state level, as a governor, we knew a lot of that money came with fat strings attached. The federal government was going to have more control over our states. They were going to disrespect the Tenth Amendment of our Constitution by essentially bribing with us. Take this federal money and then we going to be able to mandate a few more things on you though. I joined with other conservative governors around the nation in rejecting some of those dollars. Legislators --


Turned out to be, though, nothing to applaud, because legislators then were threatening lawsuits if governors didn't take the money. And I vetoed some of the funds that I knew we couldn't maintain the programs that we were going to pay for with these borrowed, printed up, invented dollars out of nowhere, but lawsuits were threatened. Even in Alaska, in a Republican-controlled legislature, my veto was overridden, and the money poured into those states. And I believe we will see this play out in our states. The federal government will have taken more control over the people who live in our states.

Now I understand wanting to believe that this is all free money and for some, I guess, it is tough to tell people "no" in tough times. Plus, remember our administration promise that it would be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. Remember? Remember, Vice President Biden? He was put in charge of a tough, unprecedented oversight effort. That's how it was introduced. You know why? Because nobody messes with Joe.


Now, this was all part of that hope and change and transparency. And now a year later, I got to ask the supporters of all that, how is that hopey-changey stuff working out for you?


See, I tried to look into that transparency thing but Joe's meetings with the transparency and accountability board, it was closed to the public.


Yes. They held a transparency meeting behind closed doors.


So I'm not sure if anybody's messing with Joe. But here is what I do know. A lot of that stimulus cash, it ended up in some pretty odd places, including districts that didn't even exist.


And programs that really don't have a whole lot to do with stimulating the economy. Nearly $6 million was given to a Democrat pollster, who had already made millions during the Democrats' presidential primary. Nearly $10 million was spent to update the stimulus web site. And one state even spent a million bucks to put up signs that advertised they were spending the federal stimulus projects or, as someone put it, this was a $1 million effort to tell you it is spending your money.


And it didn't create a single job.

Those uses of stimulus funds don't sound targeted and they don't sound timely as we were promised. They just sound wasteful and, in the case of those signs, kind of ridiculous. All of that stimulus. I don't know about you but seeing those checks written for pet projects of congressmen and those in the White House, did you feel very stimulated?


And then it turns out that Washington got the price tag wrong. All of these projects and programs, they cost tens and tens of billions more than we were told. It is now closer to $860 billion. Add this to the fact that the White House can't even tell us how many jobs were actually created. Depending on who you ask, it is anywhere from thousands to two million.

But one number we are sure of is the unemployment number. That is 9.7, which is well above the 8 percent mark that we were promised our stimulus package would go to avoid. And unemployment now is -- underemployment now is 16.5 percent. You have got all these people who have just kind of given up right now. and they are not even enrolling in some of these programs. Tough to count them.

Folks, I won't go into all of it tonight, but the list of broken promises is long. Candidate Obama pledged to end closed-door, sweetheart deals and no-bit contracts once and for all, but just last month his administration awarded a $25 million no-bid contract to a Democrat donor? Is that hope? Nope. It's not hope.


That's the same old, same old in Washington, D.C. And instead of changing the way Washington does business, we got the cornhusker kickback and the Louisiana Purchase and millions of tax breaks for union boss' desires. The promised ban on lobbyist in this new administration, he handed out waivers left and right, and there are more than 40 former lobbyists who now work at the top levels in this administration. And these days, most members of Congress, they don't get to read the bill before they have to vote on it, much less the pledged that a bill wouldn't be signed into law before we all had five days to review it online.

So, see, it's easy to understand why Americans are shaking their heads when Washington has broken trust with the people that these politicians are to be serving. We're drowning in national debt and many of us have had enough. Now the foundational principles in all of this, it's easy to understand. It really is even I though I think D.C. would just love for us to believe that this is all way over our heads. Somebody in Tennessee, somebody up there in Alaska, she'll never understand what we are talking about here in D.C. No, this is all pretty simple stuff. When our families, when our small businesses, we start running our finances in to the red, what do we do? We tighten our belts and we cut back budgets. That is what we teach our children, to live within our means. That is what Todd and I do when we have to make payroll, buy new equipment for our commercial fishing business. We have to plan for the future, meet a budget.

But in Washington, why is it just the opposite of that? This week, they unveiled a record busting, mind boggling $3.8 trillion federal budget and they keep borrowing and they keep printing these dollars and they keep making us more and more beholden to foreign countries and they keep making us take these steps towards insolvency. Now what they are doing in proposing these big new programs with giant price tags, they're sticking our kids with the bill. And that is immoral. That is generational theft. We are stealing the opportunities from our children.

And freedom lovers around this country need to be aware this makes us more beholden to other countries, it makes us less secure. It makes us less free and that should tick us off. So, folks, with all these serious challenges ahead, we've got private-sector job creation that has got to take place and economic woes and health care, the war on terror.

But as the saying goes, if you can't ride two horses at once, you shouldn't be in the circus. So here's some advice for those in D.C. who want to shine in the greatest show on earth. Too often when big government and big business get together and cronyism sets in, well, it benefits insiders not everyday Americans. The administration and Congress should do what we did up there in Alaska when the good old boys started making back room deals that were benefiting big oil and not the citizens of the state. And the citizens of the state then, Alaskans, we got together and we put government back on the side of the people. And a lot of the big wigs, they started getting in trouble and some of the big wigs ended up going to jail over their back room deals.

Our government needs to adopt a pro-market agenda that doesn't pick winners and losers but it invites competition and it levels the playing field for everyone. Washington has got to across the board, lower taxes for small businesses so that our mom and pops can reinvest and hire people so that our businesses can thrive. They should support competition, support innovation, reward hard work.

And they should do all that they can to make sure that the game is fair without the undo corrupt influence. And then they need to get government out of the way. If they would do this -- if they would do this, our economy, it would roar back to life and for instance on health care, we need bipartisan solutions to help families not increase taxes. Remember that red reset button that America through Secretary Clinton, she gave to Putin. Remember that? I think we should ask for that back and hand it instead to Congress. And say, no, start all over on this health care scheme and pass meaningful, market-based reforms that incorporate some simple steps that have broad support. The best ideas, not back room deals but insurance purchases across state lines and the tort reform that we've talked about.

Those things that are common sense steps towards reform that the White House and leaders on the Democrats' side of the aisle in Congress, they don't want to consider. So it makes you wonder, what truly is their motivation? What is their intention if they won't consider even these common sense, broad based support ideas that would work? And to create jobs. Washington should jump start energy projects. I said it during the campaign and I'll say it now, we need an all of the above approach to energy policy. That means proven conventional resource development and support for nuclear power. And I was thankful that the president at least mentioned nuclear power in his State of the Union.

But, again, we need more than words. We need a plan to turn that goal into a reality and that way we can pave the way for projects that will create jobs, those are real job creators and deliver carbon free energy. And while we're at it, let's expedite the regulatory and permitting and legal processes for on and offshore drilling.

Instead of paying billions of dollars, hundreds of billions of dollars that now are being sent to foreign regimes, we should be drilling here and drilling now instead of relying on them to develop their resources for us. So what we've got to do is axe that plan for cap-and-tax, that policy is going to kill jobs and it's going to pass the burden of paying for it onto our working families.

And finally, if we are going to get serious about fiscal restraint, then we've got to make Washington start walking the walk. After putting us on a track to quadruple the deficit, the proposed spending freeze, maybe it is a start, but it's certainly not enough. As Senator John Thune said, it's like putting a Band-Aid on a self- inflicted gunshot wound.

We need to go further. Cut spending. Don't just simply slow down a spending spree and we've got to axe the plans for a second stimulus when the first hasn't even been measured for any success yet. Kill the plans for the second stimulus and be aware that now that second stimulus is being referred to as a jobs bill. Now these aren't the only ways to rein in spending, and alone, they're not going to be enough, not enough to tackle the insane debt and the deficits that we face. But they are a good way to start and to show that we're serious about getting our financial house in order.

Now like a lot of you, perhaps, I have spent the last year thinking about how to best serve. How can I help our country? How can I make sure that I, that you, that we're in a position of nobody being able to succeed. When they try to tell us to sit down and shut up, how can we best serve? In 2008, I had the honor really of a lifetime, the honor of a lifetime, running alongside John McCain. I look at him as an American hero. And nearly 60 million Americans voted for us. They cast their ballot for the things that we are talking about tonight. Lower taxes, smaller government, transparency, energy independence and strong national security. And while no, our votes did not carry the day, it was still a call to serve our country. Those voters wanted us to keep on fighting and take the gloves off and they wanted common sense conservative solutions and they wanted us to keep on debating. And each of us who is here today, we're living proof that you don't need an office or a title to make a difference and you don't need a proclaimed leader as if we are all just a bunch of sheep and we're looking for a leader to progress this movement.

That is what we are fighting for. It is what we are fighting about. It is what we believe in and that's what this movement is all about. When people are willing to meet halfway and stand up for common sense solutions and values, then we want to work with them. And in that spirit, I applaud Independents and Democrats like Bart Stupak who stood up to tough partisan pressure and he wanted to protect the sanctity of life and the rights of the soon to be born. I applaud him for that.

When we can work together, we will. But when the work of Washington violates our consciences and when the work and effort in Washington, D.C., violate our Constitution, then we will stand up and we will be counted. Because we are the loyal opposition. And we have a vision for the future of our country, too, and it is a vision anchored in time tested truths.

That the government that governs least, governs best. And that the Constitution provides the best road map towards a more perfect union. And that only limited government can expand prosperity and opportunity for all and that freedom is a God given right and it is worth fighting for. God bless you. And that America's finest, our men and women in uniform, are a force for good throughout the world and that is nothing to apologize for.

These are enduring truths and these enduring truths have been passed down from Washington to Lincoln to Reagan and now to you. But while this movement, our roots there, in our spirit, too, they are historic. The current form of this movement is fresh and it's young and it's fragile. We are now the keepers of an honorable tradition of conservative values and good works. And we must never forget that it is a sacred trust to carry these ideas forward. It demands civility and it requires decent constructive issue-oriented debate.

Opponents of this message, they are seeking to marginalize this movement. They want to paint us as ideologically extreme and the counterpoint to liberal intolerance and outrageous conspiracy theorists aimed at our own government and unethical shameless tactics like considering a candidate's children fair game.

But unlike the elitists who denounce this movement, they just don't want to hear the message. I've traveled across this great country and I've talked to the patriotic men and women who make up the Tea Party movement, and they are good and kind and selfless and they are deeply concerned about our country. And today I ask only this, let's make this movement a tribute to their good example and make it worthy of their hard work and their support.

Do not let us have our heads turned from the important work before us and do not give others an excuse to be able to turn their eyes from this. Let us not get bogged down in the small squabbles. Let us get caught up in the big ideas. To do so would be a fitting tribute to Ronald Reagan, especially tonight, as he would have turned 99. No longer with us. His spirit lives on and his American dream endures. He knew the best of our country is not all gathered in Washington, D.C. It is here in our communities where families live and children learn and children with special needs are welcomed in this world and embraced. And thank you for that.

The best of America can be found in places where patriots are brave enough and free enough to be able to stand up and speak up and where small businesses grow our economy one job at a time and folks like Reagan, we know that America is still that shining city on a hill. I do believe that God shed his grace on thee. We know that our best days are yet to come. Tea Party nation, we know that there is nothing wrong with America that together we can't fix as Americans.

So from the bottom of my heart and speaking on behalf of millions and millions and millions of Americans who want to encourage this movement, this movement is about the people. Who can argue of a movement that is about the people and for the people? Remember, all political power is inherent in the people and government is supposed to be working for the people. That is what this movement is about.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being part of the solution. God bless you, Tea Partiers and God bless the USA. Thank you. God bless you.


LEMON: You're just listening to Sarah Palin speaking at the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, really making some very strong points, and some strong words for the administration and for the president. She is supposed to take questions. And we are going to carry that Q & A part of it live.

But there you see Sarah Palin there on the stage, Opryland Hotel, Gaylord Opryland Hotel. And she again talked about the administration, talked about the current administration, I should say, talked about what the Tea Party movement is all about, getting thunderous applause especially towards the end. It appears that she may have gotten a little teary eyed when talking about her special needs child saying that she likes to be part of a group that welcomes a special needs child into the world, welcomes and accepts. Sarah Palin taking questions now.

We are going to go back there live and listen in.


QUESTION: A few weeks ago, we worked out something where there would be a brief question and answer session. And we asked some folks on Tea Party Nation that we could ask Governor Palin tonight. And she has graciously agreed to answer a few questions. So we're going to take a few minutes and ask and answer a few questions.

PALIN: Thank you.

QUESTION: By the way, is this your first time in Nashville?

PALIN: It is. I haven't even been here for a concert yet which Piper, I brought Piper with me, and she's just going crazy wanting to get out there and see if she can go out and find Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift. My first time here though.

QUESTION: Well, I hate to tell her this, Miley Cyrus lives not too far from where we are. So I'm sorry we couldn't work that out for you. Next time. All right, a few questions real quick. And again, these have been submitted by folks on Tea Party Nation. First of all, how do you see the future of the Tea Party movement? Do you see this Tea Party movement becoming a part of the Republican Party or do you see it becoming a third Independent party?

PALIN: The Republican Party would be really smart to start trying to absorb as much of the Tea Party movement as possible because this is the future of our country. The Tea Party movement is the future of politics and as I said before, this is a beautiful movement because it is shaping the way politics are conducted. You've got really both party machines running scared because they are not knowing what are we going to do if we don't have Tea Party support? They know that they won't succeed.

QUESTION: Outstanding. At the convention here, we have at least three people I know who are running for Congress. So let me ask you this, if you had the chance to interview some of these people, what questions would you ask them to determine whether or not you would support them?

PALIN: I'm going to ask them if they think that we're taxed enough already. And if they say yes, I'm going to say well what are you going to do about it. Because really, we don't want to just hear the talk. We want to know that they walk the walk, either via a record that perhaps they can prove to us in other elected office they have had. But I want to encourage people who don't have any elected office experience, not some kind of fat elite resume in their back pocket. I want the fresh folks to come out and run for office and start changing the world via these state and local and national offices.

But if they feel that they've been taxed enough already and that they make us a commitment that they are going to do something about it and if they just believe in that constitutional limited government that the federal government has got to start abiding by, a lot of the things that perhaps the details, the things on the periphery that perhaps I wouldn't agree with very single aspect of their agenda that they would like to implement, they have got the basics down, I think it would be wise for us to be supportive. QUESTION: I'm going to have to learn to wait to let people applaud. Yeah! It goes without saying, the in game for the Tea Party movement for 2010 is a conservative House and a conservative Senate, or as I had the chance to tell some people earlier today, next year at this time we need to see the title former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Senator Harry Reid.

PALIN: We will.

QUESTION: When we are successful and we have a conservative House and a conservative Senate, as soon as that happens, what do you think are the top three things that have got to be done?

PALIN: We've got to rein in the spending, obviously, and not raise it extremely high budgets and then say, OK, we are going to freeze a couple programs here. That doesn't do us any good really. We've got to start reining in the spending. We have got to jump start these energy projects that, again, we have heard so much about because it is ridiculous that we have just sitting warehoused under God's green earth here in the United States of America, rich resources, oil, and gas, and our coil and all of the conventional resources. We have got to actually walk that walk, to allow them to come to development.

And then, I think, it is kind of tougher to -- kind of tougher to put our arms around, but allowing America's spirit to rise again by not being afraid -- not being afraid to kind of go back to some of our roots as a God-fearing nation where we are not afraid to say, especially in times of potential trouble in the future here, we are not afraid to say, you know, we don't have all the answers as fallible men and women.

So it would be wise of us to start seeking some divine intervention again in this country so that we can be safe and secure and prosperous again. To have people involved in government who aren't afraid to go that route, not so afraid of the political correctness that, you know, they have to be afraid of what the media would say about them if they were to proclaim their reliance on our creator.

QUESTION: That's right.

QUESTION: Amen. Now, we know conservatives are never harassed in the media, so the following is clearly a hypothetical question. In the instance that there were ever to be a conservative who were harassed in the media, what would you say to them?

PALIN: Plow right on through it. Really, at the end of the day, who cares what an irrelevant, mainstream media is going to say about you? Who cares? The political hot shots that they want to take at you for standing up and saying what you believe in and proclaiming the patriotic love that you have for country and a lot of those in the mainstream media, they don't want to hear that. At the end of the day, it really doesn't matter what they have to say about you because I really believe that there are more of us than they want us to believe. That should empower us, that should strengthen us and plow right on through it, please. QUESTION: We've mentioned today is Ronald Reagan's -- or would have been his 99th birthday, the 99th anniversary of his birth. And one of the amazing things Ronald Reagan did when he was in the White House, he created this great majority that was based not on Republicans and Democrats, but he had a conservative majority in Congress. What do you think we can do to get conservative Democrats, conservative libertarians, conservative Independents, on board with the Tea Party movement so that in 2011 when a new Congress and a new Senate is sworn in, it's conservative?

PALIN: Hey, they are already peeking in. It is pretty cool to see some of the blue dog Democrats peeking under the tent, you know, and finding out, what is this movement all about and holy geez, I'm scared if I'm not a part of this.

And the nice thing about the Tea Party movement, it's not just a bunch of hard core registered Republicans. I'll make a confession right now. My husband, he's not a registered Republican. He's much too independent, but probably more conservative than I am, even, but I think he is kind of an example of so many other American who don't choose to be a part of a registered party because they see the problems within the machine.

They see some of the idiosyncrasies of the personalities who control the political machines and they don't want to waste time dealing with that, so they are independent, but they are believers in the movement and I think you're going to see a whole lot of the Independents and more conservative Democrats finally be empowered and emboldened and say, yes, I'll come out of the closet now and I'll let them know I believe in it too.

Now, as I talk about Todd explaining that he's not a registered Republican, I guess I need to apologize to the Republican Party because some people have said, you're a pretty weak Republican spokesperson that if you can't even get your own husband to convert, but he's much too independent.

QUESTION: Don't feel bad, my wife left the Republican Party, too. We hear about the Obama plan. What's the Palin plan?

PALIN: The Palin plan is quite simple and I kind of get a kick out of it. I think it probably drives some of the elitists crazy that I don't get angry out about it, I get a kick out of it when they say that I'm too simple minded and too plain spoken, but my plan is quite simple and that is to support those who understand the foundation of our country.

When it comes to the economy, it is free market principles that reward hard work and personal responsibility. And when it comes to national security, as I ratchet down the message on national security, it's easy to just kind of sum it up by repeating Ronald Reagan when he talked about the Cold War. And we can apply this now to our war on terrorism, you know. Bottom line, we win, they lose. We do all that we can to win.

QUESTION: For you, national security is a little more of a personal issue. You have a son in the army. How is he doing?

PALIN: He's doing awesome. And I'm so proud of him and the decision that he has made along with all the many, many men and women in uniform who -- I look at, especially these young men and women and think, they could be doing anything or nothing else in our world, and they have chosen to serve something greater than self. They are not just biting time or wasting time in their young years of their lives. They get it. They understand the need to protect our security and to really be willing to die for our freedom. And when I talk about my son, and he doesn't like me to talk about him, as a matter of fact, he'll chew me out if he hears about this, but --

QUESTION: He may be watching.

PALIN: I don't think he's ever turned on C-SPAN in his entire young life. But I'm proud of him and the decision that he has made because, again, they are serving something greater than self, but as Track, as my son would tell me, he says, don't pick me up, mom to thank me. Thank the troops I serve with and thank those who have gone on before me to allow me to do what I'm doing, yeah.

QUESTION: 2010 is an amazing year because it is an election year. We are rolling through the primaries. We just got through Illinois and I'm not even sure what's coming up next. Are you going to be endorsing specific candidates?

PALIN: I will. And I will be attending as many events for these candidates as possible. I'll probably tick off some people as I get involved, even in a few of the primaries, but I do want to encourage these contested competitive primaries. Truly, this is how we are going to find the cream of the crop to rise to be able to face a challenger in the general. Let's not be afraid of contested primaries. I'm going to assist in some of those, but I'll get out there and campaign and if not in all the races, campaigning for specific candidates, I'm going to be campaigning for the message, this common sense conservative message.

QUESTION: I can think of two words right now that scare liberals, President Palin.


CROWD: Go Sarah.