(WASHINGTON) — Sarah Palin served up a generous helping of conservative red meat on Saturday, comparing President Obama to white-collar criminal Bernie Madoff, mocking New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his support of a jumbo soda ban and criticizing the GOP’s post-election attempt at “putting a fresh coat of rhetorical paint on our party” rather than focusing on “restoring the trust of the American people.”
On the final day of the Conservative Political Action Conference just outside Washington, D.C., Palin delivered one of the most well-received speeches of a weekend that has featured the likes of Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Stopping numerous times for standing ovations, she reserved particular vitriol for President Obama.
“He is considered a good politician,” the former vice presidential nominee said, referring to Obama, “which is like saying Bernie Madoff was a good salesmen. The difference being, the president is using our money.”
She exhorted him to “step away from the teleprompter and do your job.”
Dressed in a zippered black jacket, an American flag cuff, and a gold Star of David, necklace Palin lit up the room. It was a stark contrast to Romney’s address on Friday when he did not even mention the president. But her barbs were not only aimed at Obama. She broadened her criticism to include the “permanent political class” who are in “permanent campaign mode.”
“Never before have our challenges been so big and our leaders so small,” Palin said.
The former Alaska governor, whose level influence within the Republican Party is a matter of some debate now that she no longer holds public office, declined to run for president last year and decided against renewing her contract as a political commentator on Fox News, said she brought a message from the “heartland of America,” which was simply this: “Things are bad out here.”
During her remarks, which lasted more than 26 minutes — much more time that many other prominent speakers were allotted at the three-day gathering of thousands of conservative leaders and activists — she displayed the same renegade sensibility that won her the admiration of so many Republicans when she emerged from relative obscurity (a “hockey mom from Wasilla,” as she referred to herself on Saturday) to become Sen. John McCain’s running mate in 2008.
“Now is the time to furlough the consultants,” she said, echoing a commonly-heard refrain at this weekend’s conference. “If we truly know what we believe we do not need professionals to tell us.”
And on Saturday she waded in to one of the country’s most intractable policy debates: gun control.
“Background checks? Yeah, I guess to learn more about a person’s thinking and associations and intentions. More background checks?” she said. “Dandy idea, Mr. President — should have started with yours.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Allie Malloy and Kevin Liptak, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN
Ruth Brown, Idaho Press-Tribune