Palin teases Reno crowd about presidential run

/ Source: The Associated Press

Sarah Palin launched a two-week run of tea party rallies Monday leading up to the election and teased supporters about a possible presidential run for herself, saying "we can see 2012 from our house."

The remark came as the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee — who has not publicly committed to seeking higher office — kicked off the 15-day Tea Party Express coast-to-coast campaign tour, hoping to capitalize on government discontent and unify conservatives before the Nov. 2 election.

Headlining a rally outside county GOP headquarters, Palin told more than 500 people that common sense is an "endangered species" in Washington, D.C., and they should "keep the faith" as they go to the polls Nov. 2.

The former Alaska governor earlier endorsed Republican Sharron Angle, a tea party-backed candidate locked in a tight race in Nevada against Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"Tea Party Americans, you are winning, you are turning this country's political landscape upside down ... and the left just doesn't know what to do with you," Palin said to cheers.

Angle couldn't attend because the national tea party committee based in California has made independent expenditures on her behalf, and federal laws prohibit coordination between campaigns and independent groups.

In a moment of self-deprecation, Palin told the crowd, "I can see November from my house," a reference to a comedy skit over her qualifications for vice president when she said she could see Russia from Alaska.

Then, looking to the next presidential election two years from now, Palin said, "Mr. Obama, and your czars, you're next because we can see 2012 from our house."

The Tea Party Express tour was headed to Elko later Monday, then on to Ely and Las Vegas on Tuesday. It has scheduled stops in 15 states before it ends Nov. 1 in New Hampshire.

Tea Party Express spokesman Levi Russell said Palin was welcome to join other stops on the tour but she had committed only to the Reno rally.

Denying Reid a fifth term is a key goal of Republicans. Angle, a former state assemblywoman, won the endorsement of the Tea Party Express in the weeks running up to the June 3 primary and emerged the surprise victor from a 12-candidate GOP field.

The GOP's 2008 vice presidential nominee also chided some establishment Republicans for lacking the courage to climb on board the conservative movement that she said is "stronger than ever" and poised to throw out Reid and his Democratic allies in Congress.

"Some of these politicians — the big wigs within the machine — they are driving me crazy because they are too chicken to come out and support the tea party candidates," Palin said.

"Some of you need to man up and spend some political capital to support the tea party candidates instead of waiting to see how everything is going to go."

The "man up" referred to a line Angle told Reid during a debate last week in criticizing what she said was his refusal to acknowledge the fiscal crisis facing Social Security.

Palin's remarks appeared to conflict at least in part with the assessment of Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who on Saturday that "there is no struggle, rift, fight between those who claim the banner of the tea party and those who are in the Republican Party. We work together."

Steele made the remarks at an Orange County rally, where Palin shared the stage.

Palin said Angle shocked party regulars in Nevada with her come-from-behind win over more mainstream Republicans, as Joe Miller did in knocking off incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska's GOP primary.

"Bless her heart, the stuff that they have thrown at (Angle) and tried to clobber her, and yet, she is still standing," Palin said.

Supporters at Monday's rally waved American flags and signs that read, "Impeach Obama, Dump Reid," "Stop spending," and "Americans are not arrogant. Government is."

"I think Reid is toast," said Tom Daly, a retiree who worked in Washington and moved from California to Nevada five years ago. "He has led the Obama agenda that has failed and people don't want."

Paul and Lorraine Walter made the six-hour trip from Grants Pass, Ore., where they are backing Republican challenger Art Robinson against veteran Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio.

"We were here real early in the morning to see Sarah, " Lorraine Walter said. "We believe people are so fed up with everything in Washington, so we going to go to the polls and have a big victory."