Sarah Palin gives the keynote speech during the Republican National Committee’s “Victory Rally” at the Anaheim Marriott on Saturday.


Published: Oct. 16, 2010
Updated: 7:41 p.m.


ANAHEIM – Sarah Palin brought her bold brand of folksiness and ferocity to Orange County on Saturday, telling a throng of admirers that Republican success on Election Day is their only hope of “saving our republic as we know it.”

Ear-splitting applause erupted from the 2,000-person audience as Palin, sporting a gray pantsuit, took the stage inside an Anaheim Marriott ballroom.

“Tell ’em Sarah!” one man shouted shortly after the start of her 25-minute stem-winder.

Palin’s appearance at the “Victory Rally” hewed to big-picture themes, consisting largely of a broadside against Democratic policies and a paean to “American exceptionalism.”

“There is nothing wrong with America that a good old fashioned election won’t fix,” she said.

Guests paid $20.10 for general admission, or up to $1,000 for a photo-op with the former Alaska governor.

The crowd – overwhelmingly white and middle aged or older – was heavily clad in patriotic attire, including April Gentry, a Huntington Beach resident who sported a Liberty Bell shirt.

“I don’t want everybody to believe California is a bunch of liberals,” she said in explaining her attendance. “We actually care how our money is spent.”

The political event was a rarity for David Lauritzen of Los Alamitos, who said he is “not a rally person” but was lured by Palin’s homespun message.

“She straight-talking, she’s wholesome, she’s a Christian, which I am,” Lauritzen said.

Palin, while perhaps not possessing a Midas touch, is credited with putting candidates over the top in primary races across the country.

Rallying the base will be crucial to Republican ambitions in California, where ticket-toppers Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina – seeking the governor’s mansion and a Senate seat, respectively – trail Democratic rivals by a few percentage points in recent polls.

“You’ve got some simple choices, California,” Palin told the energetic crowd, praising the state for its previous election of a conservative icon. “You brought us our American hero, Ronald Reagan.”

Orange County’s large voting population – not to mention its wealth – have been tapped with regularity by both parties in the campaign’s closing weeks, witnessing visits by President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden and former New York Gov. Rudy Giuliani.

While not the conservative bastion it once was, O.C. remains valuable for the GOP, with 43 percent of voters identifying with Republicans and another 20 percent not aligned with a particular party.

“We need independents, we need the GOP, we need Reagan Democrats,” Palin said.

In 2008, Arizona Sen. John McCain and running mate Palin won 50 percent of the vote in O.C., narrowly besting President Barack Obama and Biden.

Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, told the crowd that California is no longer just an ATM for the GOP. “That is over,” he said. “We’re here to win.”

Assemblyman Van Tran, seeking to topple Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Santa Ana, earned hearty applause from the crowd. “In 17 days, we’re going to take back the House,” Tran declared.

Palin’s rally was also supposed to raise funds for Fiorina, whose bid to unseat incumbent Barbara Boxer is critical to GOP dreams of seizing a Senate majority.

Yet Fiorina did not attend, instead stumping Saturday in San Diego with Sen. John McCain, which was widely seen as a snub because of Palin’s poor standing in the Golden State.

A recent Field Poll found 53 percent of Californians would be less inclined to support a Palin-backed candidate, leading the survey’s analysts to conclude her endorsement “could hurt more than help a candidate in this state.”

To read entire story, click here.