Sarah Palin urged Michigan conservatives to look at upcoming state elections as opportunity to put their candidates in place and begin changing big government, cutting federal spending and repealing the new federal healthcare law.
The former Republican vice presidential candidate and ex-governor of Alaska warned close to 2,000 people at an anti-tax forum in Clarkston,Mich., about the growth of government.
"The fundamental transformation of America is not what we all bargained for," Palin said Saturday in a speech that lasted about 45 minutes. "Americans deserve better."
Palin was the keynote speaker at the Michigan Defending the American Dream Summit sponsored by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation. The daylong event was to include a variety of speakers on healthcare, property rights, taxes and Michigan’s budget.
A debate between three of five Republican candidates running for Michigan governor was expected to cap the forum Saturday afternoon.
The upcoming governor’s race and elections throughout Michigan will provide conservative voters with the opportunity to make change locally before taking on Democratic federal leadership, Palin said.
"My heart goes out to you. The rest of us will not abandon Michigan," she said. "You deserve much better than the kind of leadership you’re getting from Washington, D.C. If we’re going to get America back on track, we have to get back to some time-tested truth."
Michigan’s unemployment rate has led the nation in each of the past four years and now stands at 14.1 percent. Thousands of jobs, especially in the struggling auto and manufacturing industries, have been lost.
Palin embraced the tea party movement, which generally unites on the fiscally conservative principles of small government, lower taxes and less spending.
"It’s been so inspiring to see real people, not politicos, just everyday, average hardworking Americans who want to speak out for common sense conservative values," she said.
David Hills, 72, of Clarkston, said he heard enough to want to get more involved in similar grass-roots efforts.
Politicians "are spending our money and making the wrong moves, financially," the retired electrician said after Palin spoke. "We’re going down the road to disaster."
Palin repeatedly pointed to government bailouts in the auto and financial sectors and the new federal health care law as evidence the federal government has become "intrusive."
"First, it was the banks and mortgage companies and financial institutions, then automakers and, now, health care. What’s next?" she said. "Enough is enough. We’re going to take government back and put it on the side of the people."
Gail Sampsell, 57, of Kalamazoo, drove more than two hours to hear Palin speak and agreed with most of her suggestions.
"I find Obama’s policies socialist," said Sampsell, a 30-year veteran of the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department. "I don’t like the way the country is headed, right now. I have to hold to fiscal responsibility and I want a government that holds to fiscal responsibility."
Palin began her speech by bemoaning Arizona Sen. John McCain’s decision during the 2008 presidential race to concede Michigan to Democrat and eventual winner Barack Obama and scaled back his campaign operations there.
"Why did we give up in Michigan?" she said. "We know that times are tough, and many of the people here in Michigan have maybe had it tougher than other people in America."
© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.