EUGENE, Ore. – Sarah Palin took the stage in Eugene Friday night to rally for what she called “everyday hard-working Americans.”
Her speech at the Lane County Republican’s Lincoln Dinner was filled with pleas to elect candidates in the November midterm elections that embrace smaller government and free-market ideals.
"It's the belief that the government who governs least governs best," she said.
But before she dove into politics, Palin addressed the odd picture of such a noted conservative speaking in liberal-leaning Eugene.
Palin described doing a Google search on Eugene before her trip and finding an article that described the town as “hippie” and “granola” and in love with its organic food.
“I eat granola,” Palin said. “I just happen to shoot and catch my organic food before I eat it.”
“Here I am in Track Town USA and my kid’s name is Track. How Eugene hippie can that be?” she added.
After the jokes the majority of Palin’s 40-minute speech focused on her desire for small government.
"Only a limited government can provide the best path," she said.
She also portrayed herself as a populist Washington outsider and government watchdog.
“Trying to keep up with what they’re up to and to keep them and the press accountable has really become a full-time job,” she said.
She highlighted two issues specifically for conservatives to rally behind: repealing health-care reform and reforming energy policy.
“We have to make sure this ‘Obamacare’ is short-lived,” she said. “It felt so forced upon us. It was so forced upon us.”
Speaking about energy policy, she called for opening up all of America’s continental shelves to drilling.
“Production of our resources means security for Americans and jobs for American workers,” she said.
She also called for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and addressed head-on environmentalists against her plan. She argued America has more stringent environmental restrictions than many of the foreign governments we currently rely on for oil.
“So environmentalists are kind of hypocritical on this one,” she said. “I don’t know how environmentalists can sleep at night.”
Criticism of the “lame-stream” media
Palin accused the media of being inextricably linked to the political left.
“Sometimes they are kind of one in the same,” she said. “We call them the 'lame-stream' media lately.”
She said the media has been unfair to the tea party movement, going so far as to say they make up lies about tea party supporters.
“The left, well, they had to grab hold of something to discredit,” she said. “The press then just started making things up. I’ve had to deal with that for quite some time now.”
During a question and answer session, Eugene City Councilwoman Jennifer Solomon read a pre-screened question from the audience about her role at Fox News. Palin said she was proud to be a part of Fox News for being “fair and balanced.”
She also praised Fox host Glenn Beck and said with “his chalkboard technique he’s changing our country."
Journalists who covered Friday’s speech were subject to strict restrictions from the Palin camp. No cameras or recording devices of any kind were allowed and reporters were only allowed to watch the speech on a video feed in an adjacent room.
Speech organizers provided one photo of the event taken by a hired photographer.
“The media restrictions of this event are due to contractual obligations dictated by the booking agency,” said Paul Riess, who is handling public relations for the Eugene event.
A group of about two dozen protesters gathered outside the Eugene Hilton before Palin spoke. She addressed their presence and said it was nice to see she had “greeters” outside.
She also said her daughter, Bristol, perhaps being a little too naïve, went down and chatted with them before sending Palin a cell phone picture of them on the sidewalk.
Attendees paid $250 each to see Palin speak. The banquet hall at the Hilton seats about 800 people and was sold out. On top of that, many people paid $100 a head to watch a live video feed of Palin from a nearby room.
Seventy people paid $1,000 each for a meet and greet photo op with the former Alaska governor. That price also included a signed copy of Palin’s book, "Going Rogue."
Earlier in the day on Friday Palin was in Knoxville, Tenn. testifying in the case of a man accused of hacking into her personal e-mail account during the 2008 presidential campaign. Former University of Tennessee student David Kernell, the son of a Democratic state lawmaker, is charged with hacking Palin’s Yahoo! E-mail account and posting her private information on the Internet.
“I do think there should be consequences for bad behavior,” Palin told reporters outside the courtroom.
Kernell’s lawyer said the case is a prank and that Kernell had no criminal intent.