ORLANDO — Sarah Palin lashed out at Washington, the media and liberals Friday night at an Orlando Republican fundraising event, and predicted the GOP would restore common sense to government in the November elections.
Palin said those notes she wrote on her hand at a National Tea Party event — where the media and White House "busted me for using a poor-man's teleprompter" — explained just what the country needed: a strong energy policy, tax cuts and "lifting America's spirits."
"Americans get it," Palin said. "In Washington, they don't get it."
The wildly popular but equally polarizing former vice presidential candidate packed the Orange County Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day fundraiser, attracting 1,300 fans to the Shingle Creek Resort. Orange GOP chairman Lew Oliver said he expected the event to net the party more than $110,000.
Orlando was the latest stop in Palin's high-mileage speaking tour. She spoke in Daytona Beach last month, headlined an Ohio Right to Life Society fundraiser March 5 and landed in Calgary, Alberta, the next day. Later this month, Palin will help raise re-election funds for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who made her his running mate in the 2008 presidential race.
On Friday, Palin advocated drilling for oil and natural gas to gain energy independence, but said nothing specifically about such exploration off Florida's coast.
While advocating for standard GOP issues — lower taxes, less spending, more freedom and smaller government — Palin also singled out one Central Florida Democratic politician: U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando. Palin said voters need to remove the fiery millionaire lawyer in November.
"Do it for the rest of America," she said in a speech lasting about 40 minutes.
"I'm sure Palin knows all about politics in Central Florida, since from her porch she can see Winter Park," Grayson responded. "It's just another example of outside interference — watch for it, there's been plenty already, and much more to come."
The crowd was clearly excited by her appearance. "I love her morals, her character and the way she says what she believes," said Connie Albers, a self-described 40-something, stay-at-home mom from Winter Garden.
Palin is a leading contender to be atop the GOP's 2012 presidential ticket. The author of Going Rogue has established a political action committee, Sarah PAC, which had raised $2.1 million through the end of 2009, according to federal election records.
Still, Palin said nothing of her political plans Friday night.
While fans were quick to defend her, critics have chided the FOX News contributor for promoting the idea that health care reform would mean the creation of "death panels." However, she made news most recently by acknowledging that her family went to Canada for health care when she was a child. Canada utilizes a single-payer system, which many on the left champion but Palin and many on the right oppose.
Since losing the 2008 election with McCain, Palin has done everything from taking on William Shatner in a dueling autobiography book-reading showdown on Conan O'Brien's now-defunct Tonight Show to shopping her own reality show. She did a standup bit when Jay Leno returned to the late-night spot recently.
Palin took a shot at comedy again Friday night, noting that she felt "like I was home" at the aptly named Hunter's Creek development (she's a big fan of hunting).