Tea Party welcomes conservative darling Palin
NASHVILLE (Reuters) - Sarah Palin tried to rally conservatives on Saturday night at a national convention of the "Tea Party" movement, taking aim at President Barack Obama on everything from big government to teleprompters.
"I believe in this movement ... America is ready for another revolution," said Palin, former Alaska governor and Republican John McCain's running mate in the 2008 election won by Obama.
The Nashville convention brought together hundreds of activists from the "Tea Party" group, which hopes to make a splash in the 2010 congressional elections and beyond.
The three-day event had been plagued by infighting, pullouts and criticism of tickets costing more than $500.
But the appearance of Palin, the darling of the U.S. conservative movement, raised its profile and gave her a national platform to appeal directly to an emerging base for the Republican Party.
In a speech that made frequent appeals to patriotism and faith, Palin used the folksy, Washington-outsider rhetoric to lambaste Obama and his Democratic Party.
"How's that hope-y, change-y stuff working out for you?" she asked, mocking the slogans of hope and change that swept Obama's campaign into to the White House.
Tea partiers grabbed headlines last year with often highly charged protests against Obama's healthcare reform drive, a $787 billion economic stimulus package and other initiatives.
The convention is the latest sign that the diffuse movement is attempting to transform itself into a political machine that can get out the vote for conservative candidates.
All 435 seats of the House of Representatives and more than a third of the 100 Senate seats are up for grabs in November. Democrats have majorities in both chambers.
Palin encouraged activists to get out and support candidates who shared their values. Her speech was frequently interrupted by bouts of thunderous applause.
"This is about the people ... and it's a lot bigger than any charismatic guy with a teleprompter," she said, a reference to Obama's use of teleprompters which conservative critics frequently chide him for.
Referring to mounting debt and government programs, Palin said: "What they are doing ... They're sticking our kids with the bill. And that's immoral. That's generational theft."
Organizers at the convention said activists were forming a political action committee to help elect conservative candidates next fall. Other Tea Party organizations such as the Dallas chapter have on-going get-out-the-vote drives.
The movement takes its name from the historic protest against British taxation, the Boston Tea Party, one of the triggers of the American revolution against colonial rule.
(Additional reporting by Ed Stoddard in Dallas; Editing by Doina Chiacu)
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