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LIANE HANSEN, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

Conservative activists were in Nashville this week for the first-ever National Tea Party convention. They gave a hero's welcome to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who closed the event with a speech last night. Palin praised the Tea Party movement and delivered a scathing - sometimes mocking - critique of both the economic and national security policies of the Obama administration.

NPR's Don Gonyea reports from Nashville.

DON GONYEA: After three days of workshops and speeches by movement leaders far less well-known, last night in a hotel ballroom at the Opryland Resort, Tea Party convention delegates got to see a bona fide conservative superstar.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Ms. SARAH PALIN (Former Governor, Alaska): I am so proud to be an American. Thank you so much for being here tonight. Do you love your freedom?

(Soundbite of cheering)

GONYEA: Sarah Palin drew more big cheers when she told Tea Partiers that America is ready for another revolution.

This was the rare Palin speech these days to be open to the press, and she used the opportunity to tear into the president. She described his foreign policy as not recognizing the true threats America faces. She cited a decision to criminally charge the suspect in the Christmas Day airline bombing attempt - a move that she says, quote, puts our country at grave risk.

Ms. PALIN: Because that's not how radical Islamic extremists are looking at this. They know we're at war and to win that war, we need a commander in chief, not a professor of law, standing at the lectern.

(Soundbite of cheering)

GONYEA: And on the economy, she accused the White House of pushing a stimulus package that hasn't created the promised jobs and has been larger than promised. And she says millions of dollars have been wasted. Palin also says the Obama administration has not been transparent, as promised, during the campaign.

Ms. PALIN: This was all part of that hope and change and transparency. And now, a year later, I've got to ask some supporters of all that: How's that hopey, changey stuff working out for ya?

GONYEA: Now, this speech was short on policy specifics. The former Republican vice presidential nominee spoke of getting back to the kind of conservatism exemplified by that most revered Republican, Ronald Reagan. In fact, she invoked Reagan's name several times during her remarks.

The speech lasted just over 40 minutes. It was followed by 20 minutes of conversation with the conference organizer and owner, Judson Phillips. He read questions submitted in advance to the conference Web site. Phillips said: We all know about the Obama plan. What, he asked, is the Palin plan?

Ms. PALIN: My plan is quite simple. And that is to support those who understand the foundation of our country when it comes to the economy. It is free-market principles that reward hard work and personal responsibility.

GONYEA: And the Palin plan on national security...

Ms. PALIN: It's easy to just kind of sum it up by repeating Ronald Reagan when he talked about the Cold War, and we can apply this now to our war on terrorism, you know. Bottom line: We win. They lose. We do all that we can to win.

(Soundbite of cheering)

GONYEA: Palin said, time and again, the Tea Party movement doesn't need a leader - even as she looked just like the very leader the people here would like to have.

Then came the final question.

Mr. JUDSON PHILLIPS (Organizer, Owner, Tea Party Convention): I can think of two words right now that scare liberals: President Palin.

(Soundbite of cheering)

GONYEA: The cheers then became a chant: Run, Sarah, run.

(Soundbite of chanting)

Unidentified People: Run, Sarah, run. Run, Sarah, run. Run, Sarah, run.

GONYEA: Palin smiled but didn't address the question. Instead, she closed with this...

Ms. PALIN: I will live, I will die for the people of America, whatever I can do to help. And this party, this party that we call the Tea Party, this movement, as I say, is the future of politics in America, and I am proud to get to be here today. So, thank you so much.

GONYEA: Sarah Palin, at the National Tea Party convention last night.

Don Gonyea, NPR News, Nashville.

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