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Palin Bashes ‘Permanent Political Class’ at Tea Party Rally

MANCHESTER, N.H. — New England voters hoping to hear Sarah Palin announce a presidential bid were disappointed Monday when the former Alaska governor offered little more than criticism of Washington from the Tea Party Express rally stage.

Hundreds of people from the surrounding area had flocked to the first-in-the-nation primary state to see Palin fire up the crowd, but the closest the Republican got to hinting about her future intentions was a wide smile when attendees chanted, “Run, Sarah, run!”

“I appreciate your encouragement. I do,” Palin said, clad in red and framed on a Jumbotron by a yellow “Don’t tread on me” Gadsden flag waving in the background.

The majority of Palin’s speech in Veterans Memorial Park in the heart of the sleepy downtown was a critique of President Barack Obama’s leadership. She said Obama’s “hopey changey” rhetoric from his 2008 campaign “led us to the mess that we’re in” and “changed us from a country of hope to anxiety.” She said Obama represented the worst of “crony capitalism” and that he misled Americans about his intentions for helping the economy.

Palin targeted the press, saying it was “the media and the permanent political class” that ridicules the tea party movement.

“They can mock us, they can call us names, they can make stuff up, but they can’t stop us,” Palin said, to cheers. She said the tea party has presented solutions and has changed the conversation about fiscal responsibility in the nation’s capital. “My kid is not your ATM,” Palin said.

In what could have been an early warning shot to the Republican presidential field should Palin ever opt to become a candidate, the former Alaska governor decried “good ol’ boy politics as usual” and said it falls to tea party activists to continue speaking up to challenge the status quo in Washington.

“It was you” who helped the Republicans reclaim power of the U.S. House in 2010, Palin told the crowd. She said some of those GOP freshmen have been co-opted by “entrenched, inside-the-beltway politicians” and called on tea partyers to hold their politicians’ feet to the fire.

“We refuse to retreat,” Palin said. “Let’s invite candidates who will refudiate and do more than just talk. Been there, done that.”

She reprised a line from her July 2009 resignation speech that skilled fishermen know “only dead fish go with the flow.”

Palin said she wants to see a “true all-of-the-above approach” to energy independence and said the United States needs a “pro-growth agenda,” but she offered little by way of policy, keeping her speech shorter and with less detail than her Tea Party Express debut Saturday in Iowa.

And unlike the Iowa event — where she stayed to sign hundreds of items and pose for dozens of photos — Palin dashed away without speaking to voters on the rope line as a thunderstorm threatened to drench the rally.

About a dozen counter-protesters waving “Hands off our social security” posters were heckled, and a man holding a “Spill baby spill” sign was told to “get a life.”

The Tea Party Express is “the fiscal train to destroying America’s middle class,” one sign read.

The crowd of several hundred thinned quickly after Palin’s remarks concluded, leaving behind Ron Paul supporters carrying balloons shaped like blimps, merchants selling constitutional garb and a lone table of Rick Santorum fans.

Like other Tea Party Express rallies, organizers attempted to raise money to help fund the multicity tour that culminates in a debate in Florida later this month. A woman sold “commemorative programs” to “keep the buses running.” One vendor said the best-selling item is “The Constitution Made Easy,” a $10 book that he said “translates into modern English” the founding document.

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