Former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin rallied a room of hundreds of CPAC attendees in the final speech of the three-day conservative confab at National Harbor in Fort Washington.
In her down-to-earth, aw-shucks style, Palin said that she is optimistic about where the country is headed -- if only because President Obama's final term is almost up. But, she cautioned, that the Republican Party must stick to its guns and not cave to pressures to moderate the party's stances.
"We need another come-to-Jesus meeting," Palin said. "America is counting on the GOP to get it right, and that's why the establishment can't' blow it."
The speech, which concluded a convention that also featured addresses from a number of Republicans believed to be presidential contenders in 2016, contrasted sharply with much of the messaging pushed during CPAC. While many speakers -- including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and former House speaker Newt Gingrich -- had stressed the need for Republicans to be more solutions-oriented, Palin's message to the gathering was to hunker down and refuse to budge on conservative principles and on criticism of Obama.
The Republican Party is wrestling with how to square it leaders' desire to moderate the platform to appeal more to women and minorities with the conservative wing's push to double down on social issues and take a more hardline budget hawk approach to the nation's finances.
Palin heaped praise on tea party hero Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), who has in recent months clashed repeatedly with Republican leadership on Capitol Hill and forced several establishment Republicans who are considered vulnerable in this year's midterm elections to join with Democrats to get the annual lifting of the nation's borrowing limit passed.
"Thank you, Texas!" Palin declared. "'Cause liberty needs a Congress on Cruz-control."
Cruz has often declared that the GOP must remain committed to undiluted conservatism and not sacrifice those principles to court new electoral demographics or try to win national races. Those themes were echoed Saturday by Palin.
At one point, she began referring to the upcoming 2016 presidential race and was promptly interrupted by chants of "Run Sarah!" With a laugh, she responded: "I should, I didn't get to go run this morning."
As is her style, Palin's had sharp words for the media (she referred to MSNBC as "MSLSD"), for what she deemed "manufactured outrages" by the left, and for, of course, the president.
She critiqued Obama's foreign and domestic policies, made several jokes about the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act, and at one point produced a copy of Dr. Seuss's "Green Eggs and Ham" and read an altered version that took shots at Obama and the media.
"I do not like this Uncle Sam. I do not like this healthcare scam," the poem began, which elicited applause and giggles from much of the crowd.
Palin wrapped up with an upbeat tone, again stressing that conservatives must take to the ballot box in 2014 to ensure that Republicans increase their advantage in the House and win back the Senate. Then, she said, in 2016, they can win the White House.
"This is a great awakening: The age of Obama is almost over. The end of an error," Palin said. "It's we, the people. It's because of you that I've never been more optimistic about the future of our nation."