- The Washington Times - Friday, November 14, 2008


MIAMI | Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the spotlight-grabbing star at the gathering of Republican governors, Thursday said carefree spending cost Republicans at the polls, but the party has been loyal to core issues that will win back voters.

In an interview with The Washington Times, Mrs. Palin said Republicans remain strong on national defense, social issues and free markets.

“That is the agenda that is going to build this country back - free-enterprise solutions to the challenges we face, respect for equality and respect for life,” said Mrs. Palin, the vice-presidential candidate on Sen. John McCain’s losing ticket.

But she said Republicans failed to protect the public’s pocketbook, and it cost them when ballots were cast.

“The federal government, led by Republicans, spent too much money, and that was not in the public’s best interest. The public got tired of that and wanted change away from that unrestrained spending,” said Mrs. Palin, who was mobbed by reporters whenever and wherever she appeared during Wednesday and Thursday’s sessions of the Republican Governors Association.

At a press conference with the other governors, she dominated the proceedings - just by being there. Every single question from the assembled press was addressed to her, as a dozen fellow governors stood, smiling but silent, including stars such as South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the incoming chairman of the governors association.

Click here to watch reporter Ralph Hallow interview Gov. Sarah Palin

During a panel discussion, Mr. Barbour, a former two-term elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, suggested to Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, who is running to become chairman of the House Republican Conference, that the House Republicans meet with one of the party’s governors on a rotating basis once a month to share ideas and understanding. Mr. Pence said he liked the idea, which was in play when Mr. Barbour was national party chairman.

Seventeen of the nation’s 21 Republican governors attended at least some of the RGA annual meeting’s sessions, and although some were split on how to revive the ailing party, few seemed to begrudge the attention accorded Mrs. Palin by a press corps far more numerous than usual for an RGA meeting.

Mrs. Palin attracted larger crowds on the campaign trail than Mr. McCain did, but she was criticized by unnamed members of the campaign for lacking substance and knowledge, and she failed to attract the female voters that her boosters had predicted she would.

One Republican governor was overheard saying that the ability to draw “big crowds isn’t all that matters” in choosing a running mate.

On Thursday, Mrs. Palin’s aides sought to divert reporters’ attention from speculation about a 2012 presidential bid by whispering to members of the press that she is, as one aide put it, “far more interested in how the party fares in 2010 than people think.”

Mr. Pawlenty, thought to have been on Mr. McCain’s shortlist for running mate, told fellow governors that the party needs to widen its membership and appeal but doesn’t have to compromise on its limited-government and social principles to regain majority status.

In a luncheon speech that was well-received by fellow governors, Mr. Pawlenty took what some thought was a shot at Mrs. Palin by saying, “‘Drill, baby, drill’ by itself is not an energy policy. It’s not enough. We’re going to need wind and solar and biomass.”

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