Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, weighing a presidential bid next year, said she opposes raising the U.S. debt ceiling and welcomes a government shutdown in the fight over federal spending.
Speaking today to business executives and civic leaders in Woodbury, New York, Palin said Republicans shouldn’t be deterred by Democratic “scare tactics” over a possible government shutdown.
It would force President Barack Obama to work with Republicans, she said. “Not necessarily would that be a bad thing on either side.”
The U.S. debt is projected by the Treasury Department to reach its authorized ceiling of $14.3 trillion within a few months, setting the stage for a congressional showdown over lifting the borrowing limit. Also, current government funding runs out March 4 as lawmakers battle over the budget for the rest of the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30.
Raising the debt ceiling isn’t the answer, Palin, 47, said as she took questions at a meeting held by the Long Island Association, one of New York’s largest business groups.
“To me, all that’s going to do is create this allowance for more big spenders to get in there,” she said.
In her hourlong luncheon appearance in a packed ballroom at Crest Hollow Country Club, Palin answered questions about her political future and offered her views on topics including gun control, spending, energy policy and breast feeding.
Palin said she hasn’t made up her mind about running for president in 2012, describing her possible campaign as an “unconventional presidential run.” She said her decision last week to hire Michael Glassner as her chief of staff was intended to better organize her professional life. He worked as an aide in her 2008 vice presidential campaign.
“To tell you the truth, Todd is getting tired of doing it all for me,” she said, referring to her husband.
She criticized Obama’s budget, saying it is “an overstatement to say that we are even making a dent in the national debt,” and accused the administration of basing its energy policy on “snake-oil science.”
She defended her opposition to gun control in the wake of the shooting that critically wounded Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, saying: “The bad guys aren’t going to follow the laws on the books today. They aren’t going to follow any new laws either.”
Palin blamed the administration’s economic policy for increasing commodity prices and raising the cost of gas and groceries.
“It’s no wonder Michelle Obama is telling everybody you better breast-feed your baby,” Palin said. “Yeah, you better, because the price of milk is so high right now.”
Palin typically offers her opinions through posts on her Facebook and Twitter accounts, in interviews with friendly media outlets or on Fox News, where she is a paid commentator. Attendees said they were eager to see her in person.
“She’s kind of like a novelty,” said Robert Quarte, a partner at AVZ Accounting of Hauppauge, New York, before the speech. “We really don’t know where she stands on substance.”
$400 Per Ticket
Individual tickets for members of the association cost $400, according to the invitation. The group declined to say how much Palin was paid for the appearance. Some companies that sponsored the meeting paid $17,000 each. Charlotte, North- Carolina-based Bank of America Corp. was among the companies paying $9,500 for a seat on the dais.
Her speech venue, Nassau County east of New York City on Long Island, is New York’s wealthiest. A state oversight board seized control of the county’s finances last month after finding a $176 million budget gap in Nassau’s $2.6 billion spending plan for 2011. County Executive Edward Mangano, elected with the support of the Nassau Tea Party, says the state action was unfounded, and the county has filed a lawsuit.
Polls show Palin trailing other potential candidates. She won 6 percent of likely Republican voters questioned by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center between Jan. 28 and Feb. 7. Almost 40 percent said they would vote for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and 10 percent for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
“In a lot of those polls, yeah I get my butt kicked,” she said, blaming her showing on how she is depicted in the media. “If I’m going to do this, then obviously I’ve got to get out there and let people know who I am, what I stand for and what my record is.”
Visiting New Hampshire
Palin said that a presidential bid would require her to spend more time in early primary states like New Hampshire.
“Nothing is more effective than actually being there with the people shaking hands,” she said.
Palin has made few visits to the states scheduled to host the first presidential nomination contests.
She last traveled to Iowa on Nov. 27 on her latest book tour and in September gave the keynote address at the Iowa Republican Party’s largest annual fundraiser.
“When you see her in person, you realize she’s not the idiot they make her out to be on TV,” said Michael Raab, 39, chief operating officer of CMS LLC, an insurance wholesaler based in Massapequa, New York. “She’ll change more minds if she does more interactions like this.”
--With assistance from Esmé E. Deprez in New York. Editors: Jim Rubin, Robin Meszoly.
To contact the reporter on this story: Lisa Lerer in Long Island at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva in Washington at email@example.com.
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