Sarah Palin praises Wichitans for 'what they believe in'

The Wichita Eagle

Sarah Palin hailed Wichita as a city of "hard working and patriotic liberty-loving Americans" during a rousing speech Sunday night at Intrust Bank Arena.

The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, appearing at a fund-raiser for the Bethel Life School Association of Wichita, spoke to a crowd of a few thousand people.

The evening had a few technical glitches. Problems with the sound system led to several short delays before the speech. Entertainer Pat Boone, who hosted the event, filled some of the time by leading the audience in a round of "Rock My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham."

And during the speech, Palin's image disappeared from the large video screens above the floor.

But her fans greeted her with a loud cheer as Palin opened with the question: "Do you love your freedom?"

Palin also paid tribute to Kansas political leaders Dwight Eisenhower, Bob Dole and Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard, who introduced her.

"People here are not afraid to stand up and speak out for what they believe in," Palin said.

She said the country needs people like that to correct problems such as the economy and "Obamacare" health reform.

"The powers that be in Washington, they've got it all wrong. They want to tax and spend our way out of our problems," she said.

Palin drew one of her longest ovations by saying, "We should not be working for our government. Our government should be working for us,"

"Washington has broken faith with the citizens they're supposed to be serving and many of us want to take it back," Palin said.

She ripped the new health reform laws. "The more you find out about Obamacare," she said, "the more you're going to pressure your officials to do something about it."

"Obamacare must be repealed and replaced," she said to loud applause.

Palin urged the audience to register to vote, then elect leaders "who understand the constitution and reflect our values."

America, she said, needs to return to the exceptional country it used to be, and can do that through faith in God. strong families and values of the heartland.

After the speech, her fans were enthusiastic.

"I think she's on track. I think she's a terrific speaker," said Myron Frick, who attended with friend, Rena Young.

"It was great," said Marie Fulton, who was with her husband, Jon. "She really makes sense. She absolutely does. And I'm glad we came."

Before the speech, about 50 protesters lined the arena's entry plaza, holding signs objecting to Palin's stances on offshore drilling, accusing her of telling lies, and pointing out that she was speaking at a taxpayer-funded arena.

Occasionally they chanted "Two-four-six-eight, Sarah Palin's full of hate."

Protest organizer Shannon Ray said he wanted people to come out and show that not all Kansans think as Palin does.

He said he dislikes the divisiveness when Palin calls parts of America "Home to Real Americans."

Ray also questioned her intelligence.

"She lacks a lot of knowledge about what she is talking about," he said.

Among the Palin fans watching the protesters were Tom Belton and his wife and daughters.

"I wonder if those people know what they are talking about," he said.

Belton said he came to hear what Palin had to say.

"We need a change. The Democrats or Republicans aren't doing their job. We need a good conservative," Belton said. "She walks the talk."

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