TYLER — Sarah Palin fired up an enthusiastic Texas crowd late Saturday by criticizing President Barack Obama's handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, saying he's falling short on leadership.
The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate told thousands of people at a convention center in Tyler that the president should have been more aggressive in going after BP executives after the spill. The British company was leasing a rig that exploded April 20, causing the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
"You asked for the job, Mr. President, so buck up," Palin said to voracious applause inside the nearly packed Oil Palace. Organizers said the event drew about 5,000 people.
Palin said Obama and the federal government have been too slow in helping victims of the oil spill. She also said there have been too many regulations in allowing residents to begin cleaning up oil along the shoreline and from the water.
"After two months of incompetence from the federal government, they are taking it in their own hands," Palin said.
She also said the U.S. must become independent of foreign oil by using its own resources, but that it must be done responsibly and under government oversight.
"I chant, 'drill baby drill,' because it will help make the country energy independent," she said.
Palin also stuck to her long-standing themes during the event, such as chastising the president's handling of the recent federal health care overhaul.
Palin had a friendly crowd in Texas, where every statewide office is held by a Republican. She was introduced by Gov. Rick Perry, who said he was getting the opportunity to introduce one of the "great Americans of our time." Perry is running for a record third term in office and will face Democrat Bill White, Houston's former mayor, in the November election.
The event came one day after her appearance at California State University was picketed by students upset that officials wouldn't release details of her contract or her speaking fee. The cash-strapped university has had to cut classes and scholarships, like many others in California.
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