Though her appearance was announced only hours before, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin drew several hundred tea party activists to a rally on the Arizona Capitol lawn Oct. 22.
It was part of a get-out-the-vote tour she’s making across the county.
Palin, who didn’t mention any local candidates by name and took the stage for only about two minutes, focused her brief speech on the importance of the upcoming election.
“November 2nd – we can see it from our house,” Palin exclaimed in reference to her oft-criticized claim of being able to see Russia from her house. “Let’s elect those common-sense, conservative, independent individuals who know what it takes to allow our private sector to grow and to thrive.”
Greater Phoenix Tea Party president Lynne Breyer said that although Palin didn’t mention any of the Republican congressional candidates in hotly contested races in Arizona, she said she thought the event went well.
“I think we had twice as many people as we would have had otherwise,” Breyer said. “I talked to most, if not all, of the candidates there, and not a single one complained that she didn’t mention them. I think they were just glad that she brought so many people in.”
Krista Becklund, a 22-year-old Tempe resident, said she was thrilled to be at the event and get her copy of Palin’s book, “Going Rogue: An American Life,” signed by the former governor.
“It was very invigorating to hear support for the causes we believe in,” Becklund said. “She has a lot of answers on health care that I believe in, and she can drive the point home if anyone can.”
Brad Zinn, who volunteers with Janet Contreras’ campaign, said he would have liked to hear Palin mention the Republican candidate for Arizona’s 4th Congressional District by name, but that the endorsement Palin already gave Contreras provided a lot of support.
“The most important thing at this point is to get out the vote,” Zinn said. “It might have even been redundant to hear Sarah mention all the candidates, since we have such a big slate.”
Though Palin didn’t address issues unique to Arizona, other local politicians took advantage of the event to promote campaigns and policy positions.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who said he hadn’t met Palin until the Oct. 22 event, boasted about his efforts enforcing immigration laws and encouraged the crowd to support Republican Maricopa County Attorney candidate Bill Montgomery, who also spoke to the crowd.
Contreras told the crowd she felt good about her run against longtime incumbent Democrat Ed Pastor, and received an enthusiastic response from the crowd.
Contreras faces an uphill battle against Pastor, who has been in Congress for 19 years in a district that enjoys a significant Democratic voter-registration advantage.
State Sen. Russell Pearce, a Mesa Republican, also spoke to the crowd about the passage of SB1070 and his ongoing efforts to fight illegal immigration in Arizona.
After her speech, Palin responded to questions about Pearce’s controversial proposal to challenge the 14th Amendment, which gives citizenship to children born to illegal immigrants in the U.S.
“Certainly (the 14th Amendment) needs to be looked at,” Palin said only after the question was posed by more than one reporter. “If it’s being used as a toll to abuse our legal immigration process, then yes, it needs to be looked at. That’s common sense.”