SEARCHLIGHT, Nev. — Sarah Palin told thousands of Tea Party activists assembled in the dusty Nevada desert Saturday that Sen. Harry Reid will have to explain his votes when he comes back to his hometown to campaign.
The former Alaska governor told a cheering crowd that Reid, fighting for re-election, is "gambling away our future."
About 7,000 people streamed into tiny Searchlight, a former mining town 60 miles south of Las Vegas, bringing American flags, "Don't Tread on Me" signs and outspoken anger toward Reid, President Barack Obama and the health care overhaul.
Palin told them the big-government, big-debt spending spree of the Senate majority leader, Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is over.
"You're fired!" Palin said.
A string of polls has shown Reid is vulnerable in politically moderate Nevada after pushing Obama's agenda in Congress. His standing has also been hurt by Nevada's double-digit unemployment and record foreclosure and bankruptcy rates.
The Searchlight native responded with sarcasm to the large crowd gathered in the hardscrabble town of about 1,000 he grew up in.
"I'm happy so many people came to see my hometown of Searchlight and spend their out-of-state money, especially in these tough economic times," Reid said Saturday in a statement released through his Senate campaign. "This election will be decided by Nevadans, not people from other states who parachuted in for one day to have a tea party."
Reid supporters set up a hospitality tent Saturday in the parking lot of a Searchlight casino, about a mile from the Tea Party rally.
The Senate leader planned to spend part of the day at a new shooting range in Las Vegas with National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre.