Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin received rounds of applause during a stump speech for Republican congressional candidate Vaughn Ward in Boise Tuesday. Palin criticized the Obama administration, Congress, and the mainstream media while touting Ward’s resume. Ward is one of several candidates in the May 25 GOP primary. The winner will face Democratic U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick in the November election.
“We need someone like Vaughn who understands you don’t apologize for America,” Palin said. “Vaughn will fight for you in Congress just as honorably as he fought for you in uniform.” Vaughn is a Marine reservist and has served in Iraq and worked for the CIA. He was also the Nevada state director for the McCain/Palin presidential campaign in 2008.
Ward’s campaign said 2,000 people attended the Friday morning rally that was first announced earlier this week. Ward’s spokesman, Mike Tracy, said the campaign had been working on an appearance by Palin for months. Tracy said Palin didn’t receive a fee for her appearance, paid for her flight to Boise, and made a financial contribution to Ward’s campaign. He wouldn’t say how much the rally cost, or whether the campaign made a profit by selling tickets and VIP packages for the event. The campaign started giving out free tickets Friday morning after selling all the seats on the floor of the Qwest Arena.
After the rally, Ward said he was glad Palin came to Boise. “She’s one of Idaho’s most famous daughters,” he said. “I think people get excited about that. Idaho’s a very special place. A lot of our values transcend across the nation. I believe Idaho is what America used to be, and I believe Idaho is what America could become.” During her speech, Palin mentioned her Idaho roots, including attending the University of Idaho and her dad’s high school track records in Sandpoint.
Palin chided Congress and President Barack Obama for a number of policies, including health care reforms and wasteful spending. “It’s been an assault on our democracy,” she said about new health care laws. “It’s been a thwarting of the American people’s will, Obamacare, because it was shoved down our throats when America didn’t want it.”
The closest Palin came to mention Ward’s primary opponents, including state Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, was a short discussion of the value of competitive elections. “Competition in politics will allow the cream of the crop to rise,” she said. “That’s what we’re seeing right now.” Palin also rejected claims that Ward is a carpetbagger and not a true Idahoan. Ward owns a home in Virginia. She said those negative charges diminish any debate and the credibility of Ward’s attackers. Palin mentioned Minnick by name twice, saying that his “liberal friends” threaten America’s values, freedom, and economic livelihood.
The former Alaska governor also had harsh words for the media, who she said have misrepresented both her and Ward. “The left and some of the ‘lamestream’ media, some them can really play dirty sometimes,” she said. “They see Vaughn as a threat … “As the left becomes more desperate to cling to power, we can expect them to throw as much mud as possible.”
“I’ve seen inaccuracies,” Ward said after the event when he talked to reporters.
Palin also said Tea Party groups have been misrepresented, saying some in the media have portrayed them as rednecks. Labrador and Minnick, both potential opponents of Ward, have received endorsements from Tea Party groups. Tea Party Boise endorsed Labrador, while the national Tea Party Express endorsed Minnick.
Ward said he has support of members of other Tea Party organizations in the state, even if he doesn’t have formal endorsements. “We’re very proud to have a lot of people in the tea parties supporting this campaign,” he said. “The endorsements I care most about are the individual Idahoans that say ‘I believe in you.’”
In an echo to her 2008 campaign for vice president, Palin said she wore borrowed clothes for Ward’s rally. Palin’s luggage on a flight from Seattle didn’t arrive in Boise, and Ward confirmed that a local retailer donated clothes for her to wear. It was reported during the 2008 campaign that Palin received a wardrobe worth $150,000, but she said those clothes were borrowed.