BOISE – Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin had harsh words for the “lamestream media” and the liberal left as she gave an enthusiastic speech rallying voters for GOP congressional candidate Vaughn Ward in Boise on Friday.
“I like those bumper stickers that say, ‘You can keep the change,’ ” Palin told a crowd of between 1,500 and 2,000 at the Qwest Arena in downtown Boise.
Palin joked that she was giving the speech in “borrowed clothes, again,” a reference to the flap over clothes purchased for her when she was the GOP vice presidential candidate.
In this case, her luggage didn’t show up after she and her family flew all night to make it to the Boise gig, leaving her in sweats an hour before the rally. A Ward campaign volunteer purchased an outfit from a Boise shop in short order, and Palin wrote the volunteer a check.
Ward, who headed the McCain-Palin presidential campaign in Nevada for five months in 2008, is facing state Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, in Idaho’s primary election on Tuesday for a chance to challenge freshman Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick.
Although Ward has been viewed as the front-runner, with high-profile endorsements from a number of top GOP elected officials, a big lead in fundraising and a nine-month jump on Labrador in campaigning, Ward’s campaign has suffered in recent weeks from a string of embarrassing revelations. Those have ranged from his violating military regulations with a campaign ad, to being late paying his property taxes, to cribbing position statements from other candidates. Another was his failure to vote in the 2008 general election, despite being on the staff of the McCain-Palin campaign; Ward said he was too busy with the campaign to return to Idaho to vote.
Palin suggested Ward could be muddied as he seeks a seat in Congress. “The left and some of the lamestream media, they can really play dirty sometimes, trust me on this one, I know this one,” Palin declared. “The things that they can do could be quite hurtful, so now more than ever Vaughn’s going to need your support.”
She said, “They see Vaughn as a threat. … They’re afraid of him because a vote for Vaughn is that vote to take the gavel away from the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda.”
Palin shared folksy stories about her Idaho roots, quipped about Googling redneck jokes, and aimed her ire at the current Democratic administration and Congress. Palin, an Idaho native, graduated from the University of Idaho.
She mentioned Minnick, whose “blue dog” conservative voting record in Congress helped gain him the only Democratic endorsement from the national Tea Party Express group. Said Palin, to hoots and applause, “Walt, it’s who you’re hanging with, man.”
She also focused on Ward’s military record; he’s a decorated veteran of the Iraq war and a Marine reservist.
“Vaughn has been courageous enough to serve our country and fight for you, fight for all Americans,” Palin said. “Those are the qualities we need in leaders today who like Vaughn can go to Washington and take back a majority for common-sense conservatives, who understand the Constitution, and they understand that freedom isn’t free, freedom is a God-given right and is worth fighting for.”
Of the crowd in the arena for the rally, about half were in floor seats that cost $10 a head, while the others filled free seats on risers along the side. Money raised by the event, including $250 tickets to a VIP reception beforehand and $1,000 apiece for those who wanted their photos taken with Palin – at least 50 lined up for the privilege – went to the Ward campaign. The campaign said Palin didn’t charge a speaking fee and instead made a donation to the campaign; the $10 tickets went to cover the cost of the event.
“She didn’t benefit from coming here,” Ward said after the rally. “She benefited from trying to help out a candidate she believes in.”
Palin endorsed Ward on March 30 along with two other veterans, who are seeking congressional seats in Florida and Illinois. In August, Palin’s father and father-in-law came to Idaho to stump for Ward.
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