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Palin calls for Tea Party unity

Lashes Obama, media during N.H. appearance

Sarah Palin declined again yesterday to say whether she will run for president. Sarah Palin declined again yesterday to say whether she will run for president. (Darren Mccollester/Getty Images)
By Sarah Schweitzer
Globe Staff / September 6, 2011

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MANCHESTER, N.H. - Sarah Palin rallied a Tea Party crowd here yesterday with strong anti-Obama rhetoric, but denied them the thing many had come to hear.

“I appreciate your encouragement,’’ she said midway through her prepared remarks as the crowd broke into a chant of “Run, Sarah, run!’’

She quickly returned to script, advocating what she called a progrowth agenda, although pausing, just for a moment, mid-sentence, as if the crowd’s message had made her think.

Later, she said she was encouraged by the number of candidates in the race and urged the crowd to see the candidates for themselves and not through “the filter of the media.”

On Labor Day, the traditional launch of the presidential primary season, Palin’s demur kept Republican primary calculations in flux. If Palin were to enter the race, some say, she would boost Mitt Romney since she would likely draw voters from more conservative candidates, such as Governor Rick Perry of Texas.

Romney, speaking at an event also in Manchester yesterday, said he would welcome Palin to the race. “There’s always room for Governor Palin,’’ he said.

Palin appeared at a noon rally sponsored by the Tea Party Express, which seeks to represent the Tea Party movement at the national level. The group is in the midst of a cross-country bus tour that will culminate in Tampa where the group is to cosponsor a GOP primary debate with CNN.

Notably, Romney appeared at another Tea Party Express rally in New Hampshire last night - his first address to a Tea Party audience - even as the group struggles to find common ground. Last week, FreedomWorks, a like-minded advocacy group, pulled its blogger off the Tea Party Express bus to protest the tour organizers’ decision to allow Romney to speak at the event.

Yesterday, Palin sought to quell the disunity, telling the crowd that they needed to grow the movement and not get bogged down in internal conflicts fanned by the media.

“The Tea Party movement is bigger than any one person. It’s bigger than any one candidate,’’ she said, though she stopped short of naming anyone.

Palin sought to shore up any battered egos and flagging momentum.

“You’ve already withstood the wrath and the disdain and the lies from the media and the prominent political class looking down on us, mocking us, making things up about us, telling us to go to hell. You’ve already withstood that. We’re still standing, right? You’re here today.’’

The scene at yesterday’s rally was gleeful boosterism as the former Alaska governor took to the stage. Many in the crowd shouted encouragement to Palin, and while there were more signs for Ron Paul than for Palin, it was Palin the crowd turned out to see.

“I believe America needs Sarah Palin up there,’’ said Don Levesque, a paint business owner from Hampstead, N.H., who was among the crowd of approximately 600 at a downtown park.

Without her announcement that she will run for president, he said he is without a candidate to support.

Others said they might have once supported Palin, but her profile now is too tarnished. Still, they were intrigued by the prospect of seeing her in person.

Palin reserved her harshest criticism for President Obama and what she called his “failed policies and incompetent leadership.’’

“We’re up against Barack Obama’s very strange fundamental transformation of a country we so love,’’ she said. “We don’t need a transformation, as you know, we need a fundamental restoration of all that is good.’’

But while replacing Obama should be the primary focus of the Tea Party movement, finding the right person as his replacement is equally important, she said.

“Our nation is at a tipping point. So let’s invite candidates who ‘refudiate’ the crony capitalism and the corporate welfare and the waste and the corrupt politics and the government bailouts for their buddies,’’ she said. Palin has a penchant for including “refudiate’’ in her talks in a humorous reference to her coining the word last year in a tweet. .

She made no hint as to who the right person for the White House might be.

Some in the crowd said they are growing tired of the Palin waiting game. “The ‘is she in or out?’ is bugging me a little bit,’’ said Eileen Poulin, a 36-year-old Red Cross worker of Manchester.

Poulin spent the day, along with her brother, visiting presidential candidate events across the state. So far, she said, she was leaning toward Romney, but she had been curious to see Palin.

“She definitely motivates people to come out,’’ she said, eyeing the crowd.

Material from the Associated Press was included in this report. Sarah Schweitzer can be reached at sschweitzer@globe.com.

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