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Palin at SRLC: Recalling Hillary, hitting Obama over Karzai, backing 'repeal and replace'

NEW ORLEANS -- Sarah Palin gave a blisteringly sarcastic speech Friday to a packed audience at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, drawing a standing ovation when she highlighted her favorite bumper sticker: "Don't retreat, reload."

"And that is not a call for violence!" Palin said as Republican activists -- some of whom had lined up for her speech two hours in advance -- rose to their feet and roared with applause.

I hadn't seen Palin speak to a live audience since her political reemergence at February's National Tea Party Convention. She slid more easily this time from topic to topic, glancing down at a prepared text and adding some jokes and verve.

Her targets today were environmentalists, the media, Joe Biden, and the president. Twice, Palin evoked criticisms of Obama that had been made by Bill and Hillary Clinton in the 2008 campaign. She harkened back to Bill Clinton's remark that the Obama campaign was a "fairy tale" and to Hillary Clinton's joke, in the run-up to the March 3, 2008, primaries, that Obama's victory would cause the "skies to open, the clouds to part."

Palin tried to make a story, and will probably succeed, out of Obama dismissing her criticism of a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia. Palin, in turn, mocked "all that vast nuclear expertise he acquired as a community organizer, a part-time senator, and a candidate for president." Notably, she attacked Obama for accomplishing "nothing to date with Iran or North Korea." The original inspiration for the remark, the treaty with Russia? Not mentioned.

Palin spent a lot of time on energy, and the tone was fascinating. Details about the location of oil and natural gas reserves, which got a cooler response from the crowd, were quickly spiced up with jokes.

"The administration is locking up even more federal lands that are filled with this God-given, huge reserve," said Palin. The culprit: the "Economic Punishment Agency." Democrats, she said, were not willing to store nuclear waste or build solar panels in the desert. "God forbid, somebody might see it, or a gecko might bump into one."

Echoing a remark she has made on the stump, Palin joined the chorus of Republicans pledging that the party can "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act. "If you watch some of the news -- or maybe are on the White House's e-mail list -- some of this stuff might come as a surprise," she said.

Palin also echoed Liz Cheney's criticism of the Obama administration's handling of Afghanistan -- one more hit, and it's a trend.

Unlike other parts of the speech, where Palin riffed a little bit, it jibed with Matthew Continetti's early excerpts of the speech. "This administration alienates our friends," she said. They treated Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai poorly and acted surprised when he reacted in kind."

Palin stuck around briefly to work the crowd; according to CNN's Peter Hamby, she responded to a call to support Marco Rubio.

"Marco doesn't need MY help!" said Palin.

By David Weigel  |  April 9, 2010; 2:32 PM ET
Categories:  2012 Election , SRLC , Sarah Palin  
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