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Ultra-Folksy Sarah Palin Brings CPAC Audience to Its Feet


"We're not here to rebrand the party. We're here to rebuild a country."

Organizers say this year's Conservative Political Action Conference will be the most diverse yet, but women will still hold less than a third of the speaking slots. Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who delivered the keynote address last year, will speak again. (AP)

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin delivered a barn-burning, hyper-folksy speech to conservative activists Saturday, bringing the entire audience to its feet multiple times.

Palin's speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference started in an unconventional way: After she was first introduced, the crowd was shocked to see Texas Sen. Ted Cruz walk out onstage. Cruz said he was there to introduce Palin himself ahead of his keynote speech later in the afternoon.

"The mainstream media wants us to be timid and hide in a corner. And the mainstream media is absolutely convinced that women cannot be conservatives, and if they are, they especially cannot shoot really big guns and hunt grizzly bears," Cruz said. "That's why Governor Sarah Palin drives the mainstream media batcrap crazy."

Cruz directly attributed his success to Palin, a key backer of his, saying: "I would not be in the U.S. Senate today if it were not for Sarah Palin."

When Palin herself entered, the entire crowd surged for the first of many times. Palin waved energetically as she was welcomed, then immediately thanked Cruz.

"The senator is the keynote speaker and he would lower himself to do an introduction for a hockey mom from Wasilla," Palin said in faux-wonder. "Ted Cruz, he chews barbed wire, he spits out rust. That's what we need."

But Palin herself seemed to be in a chewing out mood, as well. She started off with the president's recent attempts to restrict gun owner rights.

"That chunk of metal did the crime? That's like saying, 'that fork made me fat,'" Palin joked about the idea that guns are responsible for violence. "Background checks? Dandy idea, Mr. President. Should've started with yours."

Palin wasn't close to finished. She moved on to attack the calls for "rebranding" of the Republican Party.

"Let's be clear about one thing: We're not here to rebrand the party. We're here to rebuild a country," Palin said. "We're not here to dedicate ourselves to new talking points coming from DC. We're not here to put a fresh coat of rhetorical point on our party...We're here to restore America, and the rest is just theatrics. The rest is sound and fury. It's just noise. And that sums up the job President Obama does today."

At one point, Palin reached under the podium and pulled out a Big Gulp and began drinking from it onstage. The action itself bringing large sections of the crowd to its feet.

But the bulk of Palin's speech was devoted to blasting the Washington and GOP establishment, including a not-so-veiled jab at Republican "architect" strategist Karl Rove.

"If you don't have a team of lobbyists in D.C. or a canceled contribution check, well, you're not at the table. You're on the menu," she said. "The last thing we need is Washington, D.C. vetting our candidates...If we had one message to send to Washington, it would be this: Get over yourself. It's not about you."

But when Palin left the stage, for those few moments, it was all about her, leaving the audience roaring on its feet for several minutes straight.

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