Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press
OXON HILL, Md. — Returning to the national stage, Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said Saturday that the Republican Party must broaden its message to grow.
"We must leave no American behind," she said in a populist speech that electrified supporters at a conservative summit in suburban Washington. "And we must share our powerful message of freedom and liberty to all citizens — even those who may disagree on some issues."
Palin has maintained a low profile during last year's election. She's expected to play a limited role in the future of the GOP but shared several recommendations Saturday.
Instead of focusing on rebuilding the Republican Party, she said that party leaders should focus on rebuilding the middle class.
She jabbed President Barack Obama and the Republican professional class alike, urging the crowd to reject the ideas of political consultants and pollsters, taking a not-so-subtle dig at Karl Rove, a former adviser to President George W. Bush and a co-founder of outside group Crossroads USA.
"The architects can head on back ... to the great Lone Star State, and put their name on some ballot, though, for their sake, I hope they give themselves a discount on their consulting services," she quipped.
But Palin saved her most pointed criticism for the president, likening him to Ponzi-scheme felon Bernie Madoff. Taking a shot at the president's call for universal background checks on gun owners, she said, "Dandy idea, Mr. President — should have started with yours."
Palin drew cheers when she paused in the middle of her remarks to sip soda from a "Big Gulp" — the type of supersized, sugary drink that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to ban. A New York judge this week struck down the Republican-turned-independent mayor's pioneering 16-ounce limit on sodas and other nondiet sweet drinks for sale.
"Oh, Bloomberg's not around," she mocked. "Our Big Gulp is safe. "
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