DALLAS — Sarah Palin attacked President Barack Obama on Wednesday for his support of abortion rights and for the federal health care overhaul as the former Alaska governor appeared in Texas with another tea party favorte, Gov. Rick Perry.
Palin described Obama as “the most pro-abortion president to occupy the White House” at the Dallas event, which was sponsored by a nonprofit organization that promotes an anti-abortion message. The 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee also said the federal health care law is the “mother of all unfunded mandates” and means federal funding will go toward abortions.
The law walled off federal funds from being used for the procedure, and an executive order signed by Obama just before it passed reaffirmed existing prohibitions on government-financed abortion, but anti-abortion activists argue that neither would actually prevent tax money from being used.
The law is expected to expand coverage to 32 million Americans who now are uninsured. It asks states to build online insurance exchanges, when most U.S. residents will be required to carry health insurance. It also greatly expands the Medicaid program for the poor.
A crowd of about 800 people filled about half the seats at a one-time vaudeville house to hear Palin and brief remarks from Perry, who was re-elected to a third full four-year term last week. Both have courted tea party support and some attending the event spoke in passing of whether the two could appear on a presidential ticket together, although the issue wasn’t front and center.
“It leads to speculation, but that’s what politics is all about,” said Jeff Turner, a Dallas County Republican precinct chairman.
Palin opened her talk with anecdotes about her family. At one point, she noted she has told many of the same stories before.
“I need to run for office just so I have more material to share in my speeches,” she said to applause.
Palin praised Perry and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who also appeared at the event, for their public opposition to the federal health care law.
“Good for them, because we have to fight back against this federal power grab,” Palin said.
Palin and Perry appeared together in April at another event sponsored by the same Austin-based group, Heroic Media, but their careers have become more entwined since last week’s midterm elections.
Perry has gained a higher national profile as he has promoted his recently released book, “Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America from Washington.”
Mark Yarbrough, executive director of the Denton County Republican Party, said he was happy to see two of the GOP’s current luminaries share the same stage. “Just the thought of what can be done – the two of them together – is interesting to me,” he said.
Ann Quest of Dallas, who identified herself as a tea party supporter, said she would see what the future holds for the pair.
“It’s been just a week since the elections,” she said.
Those attending Wednesday’s event paid for tickets of between $50 and $100 or sponsorships between $500 and $25,000.