Palin: "Rick Perry is setting an example that a lot of others want to follow.”
By Joe Holley
CYPRESS — Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican Party's reigning rock star, parachuted into suburban Houston on Super Bowl Sunday and tied her trademark anti-Washington message to the re-election of a Texas governor who's locked in an increasingly bitter primary contest with a longtime U.S. senator.
Palin told an enthusiastic crowd of about 6,000 in Cypress' Berry Center that Alaskans and Texans “pretty much want the same things — a good job in our hometown, safety and security for our loved ones, and we just want a small and smarter government that'll kind of get out of our way. And no one understands that better than Rick Perry.”
The Cypress event offered all the trappings of a rock concert — driving music, a boisterous crowd and a genuine star. It also included a screeching guitar rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” by Ted Nugent that sounded as if the vintage rocker and outspoken conservative had channeled Jimi Hendrix.
Wearing a black velvet dress and knee-high suede boots of an Aggie-maroon hue, Palin entered the darkened arena on Perry's arm. The audience responded with a raucous standing ovation, whistles, “We love you, Sarah” shouts and flashing cameras. Some had waited outside for a couple of hours in chilly, overcast weather. The 9,500-seat arena was about two-thirds full for the free event.
The 2008 vice-presidential candidate told the cheering crowd that Perry's re-election “will send a message to Washington ... Washington is broken, but your state, under Rick Perry, is setting an example that a lot of others want to follow.”
Palin said she told her daughter Piper, who stood on the stage, that Texas was Alaska's “little-sister state.”
“A lot of us in our states proudly cling to our guns and religion,” she added.
Palin never mentioned the name of Kay Bailey Hutchison, but Perry had no such compunction.
“Something is clearly wrong when an administration rolls out a spending plan that anticipates more than $5 trillion of deficits over the next five years, and we've got a senator from Texas that's voted for 95 percent of all the spending during her time in Washington,” he said.
Hutchison, elected to the Senate in 1994, has been endorsed by former Secretary of State James Baker, former Vice President Dick Cheney and former President George H.W. Bush. Her campaign released a statement Sunday that said, “Despite today's theatrics, there's no covering up Rick Perry's decadelong record of cronyism in office that brought us the Trans-Texas corridor and HPV mandate.”
Perry was effusive in his praise of the former Alaska governor.
“I doubt there is another public figure in our country who gives liberals a bigger case of the hives than our special guest today,” he said. “At the very mention of her name, the liberals, the progressives, the media elites, they literally foam at the mouth.”
Palin and Perry got to know each other at the Republican Governor's Association, and he toured with her across Texas when she was Sen. John McCain's running mate.
“He walks the walk of a true conservative,” she wrote in a recent letter to the Texas Federation of Republican Women. “And he sticks by his guns — and you know how I feel about guns.”
Perry, already the longest-serving governor in Texas history, is seeking a third four-year term. Recent polls give him a sizable lead over Hutchison and insurgent candidate Debra Medina, who has anti-establishment Tea Party and Libertarian support.
“So on March 2, you have a clear choice,” Palin said. “I want to hear, Texas, what's it gonna be: The way they operate in D.C. or the way y'all get things done in Texas?”
Palin's Texas appearance came one day after she addressed the first national convention of the Tea Party, in Nashville, where she tweaked Democrats by asking, “How's that hopey changey stuff working out for ya?”
In Nashville, she also said it was time for the United States to “start seeking some divine intervention ... so that we can be safe and secure and prosperous again.”
On the “Fox News Sunday” program before her Texas appearance, Palin said she “won't close the door” on a potential presidential bid. She has been a contributor for Fox News since January.
“It would be absurd to not consider what it is that I can potentially do to help our country,” she said on the Sunday program. She said she would run for president “if I believe that this is the right thing to do for our country and for the Palin family.”
Asked whether a Palin-Perry ticket might be a possibility in 2012, Perry communications director Mark Miner said, “Never gonna happen.”
Perry, he said, is happy staying in Texas.
© 2010 San Antonio Express-News: www.mysanantonio.com
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