RENO, Nev. -- Seeking to channel the sign-bearing, flag-waving enthusiasm of the "tea party" movement into ballot-box victories, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told hundreds of supporters here Monday they couldn't "party like it's 1773" until Washington was flooded with committed conservatives.
Though an exuberant Palin also plugged Sharron Angle, the Republican running neck-and-neck with Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, Palin spent much of her 26-minute speech denouncing the policies of Democrats, whose base is dispirited and whose congressional majorities are at stake in November.
"The only way that government can allow our economy to get roaring again is for government to get out of the way and let the private sector do it," Palin said in a state that leads the nation in joblessness and foreclosures. "Liberals need to know they can't legislate prosperity from Washington."
The event launched a 30-city nationwide tour for the Tea Party Express, whose financial backing helped Angle, Alaska's Joe Miller, Delaware's Christine O'Donnell and other conservatives secure Republican Senate nominations, but also strained relationships between the tea partiers and the GOP's more moderate wing.
That tension has been on display in Nevada, where Reid has racked up endorsements from Republican business and political leaders who worry losing his Washington clout would harm the sparsely populated state: Even the newspaper in Elko, a Republican stronghold, endorsed him in hopes that he could block legislation that might hurt the state's robust gold-mining industry.
Angle, meanwhile, has enjoyed a fundraising bonanza by battling arguably the tea party's top electoral target, despite a string of controversies that included calling the unemployed "spoiled" (she later apologized). Angle did not attend Monday's rally, but was touted as one of the tea party hopefuls who "promise to listen and to lower taxes and repeal and replace that unaffordable, unbelievable mother of all unfunded mandates called Obamacare," Palin said.
"I'm talking candidates like Sharron Angle," said Palin, who spoke in the parking lot of a Reno plaza adorned with a giant blow-up eagle and signs proclaiming "Vote Out Our Ruling Classless" and "We the People, Not We the Sheeple."
Palin, wearing a red jacket, black skirt and a self-assured smile, put her left hand on her hip as she described how Angle has fended off criticism.
"Bless her heart, the stuff that they have thrown at her and just tried to clobber her with, and yet, she's still standing," said the former GOP vice presidential nominee, who took a drubbing in her own national media debut. "And when we retire Reid and when we send Sharron to Washington, D.C., we know that she will listen, we know that she will find those common-sense, time-tested solutions that Harry Reid refused to do."
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