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Sarah Palin says Republicans and the tea party faithful will be dancing in the streets come election day because voters will return government to the little people.
Campaigning in California, the former Alaska Governor and failed Vice Presidential candidate drew an enthusiastic crowd of about 2,000 in Orange County, bolstering GOP efforts to make substantial gains in California this year.
“Soon we’ll all be dancing,” Palin told the crowd but the darling of the tea party warned the faithful to keep working and not fall into the trap of overconfidence.
“The momentum is with us but now is not the time to let up, now is not the time to celebrate — not quite yet,” Palin said. “We can’t be thinking that it’s over yet and we’ve got it in the bag. As Yogi (Berra) would’ve said, ‘It ain’t over till it’s over.'”
Palin’s appearance at the Anaheim rally sponsored by the Republican National Committee marked the end of of a three-day promotional and political swing for Palin through California.
Yet for all the enthusiasm in Orange County, Palin met with mixed reviews statewide.
A Field Poll released last week found that 58 percent of the state’s registered voters hold a negative view of Palin, although she remains quite popular among Republicans. In addition, two-thirds of independent voters would be less inclined to support a candidate endorsed by her.
And the state’s two most prominent Republican candidates this year — gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman and Senate candidate Carly Fiorina — chose to avoid sharing a stage with the tea party firebrand, citing scheduling conflicts. Whitman said she appreciated Palin’s support, but did not necessarily embrace Palin’s views.
“I want everyone on my side,” including Republicans, Democrats and independents, Whitman said.
Palin isn’t the only big name politician to visit California in the run-up to the election. Former President Bill Clinton spoke at rallies for gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown and Democratic U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez on Friday and will campaign in San Jose and Napa Sunday.
President Barack Obama will visit Los Angeles next week to support Brown and Sen. Barbara Boxer.
Invoking former President Ronald Reagan, Palin told the roaring crowd she wanted a return to principles he espoused: “lower taxes, smaller, smarter government, less overreach and intrusion, strong, unapologetic national defense.”
Reagan, she said to a thunderous applause in a Marriott hotel ballroom in Anaheim, understood the little guy.
Palin railed against the federal stimulus package and tore into the recent health care reform law, which she said amounted to a takeover of private industry.
All reasons she urged Republicans to put in 20-hour days to help turn out the vote over the next two weeks.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said California was no longer just a donor state for Republicans and that the party was working closely with those affiliated with tea party groups that are furious at the government.
“There is no struggle, rift, fight between those who claim the banner of the tea party and those who are in the Republican Party. We work together,” Steele said.
Steele urged the crowd to help out Republican state Assemblyman Van Tran, who attended the event and is challenging Sanchez for her seat in Orange County.
Wearing a red GOP baseball cap, 76-year old Erwin Vysma said he was thrilled Palin had helped the party swerve conservative after Republicans let spending spiral out of control under Bush.
“She’s doing a whale of a job,” Vysma said. “She fired up the base and hopefully we’ll all come out voting 100 percent, the Republicans, because God knows we need it.”
Associated Press Writers Amy Taxin and Don Thompson contributed to this report.