Sarah Palin told a fired-up crowd of 2,000 Florida Republicans that the financial future and personal freedom of Americans depend on the GOP faithful turning out the vote for conservative candidates across the nation in ten days. Bill Cotterell of the Florida Capital Bureau reports:
"Winning means that we secure our nation, we secure our free markets, we secure our freedoms," Palin shouted to about 2,000 flag-waving, chanting supporters at a convention center near Walt Disney World.Joining Gov. Palin and chairman Steele at the rally was Marco Rubio, who leads in the race for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Kendrick Meek and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who dropped out of the Republican primary after it become clear that he wouldn't be the winner. Crist is running as an independent in the general election:
The former Alaska governor was the featured speaker at a two-hour pep rally the Republican National Committee dubbed "Sprint to the Finish," boosting the candidacies of GOP nominees for the U.S. Senate, governor, state Cabinet seats and the U.S. House. RNC Chairman Michael Steele and state GOP Chairman John Thrasher said four Florida districts -- three of them in conservative Central Florida -- are key to the party's prospects of winning control of Congress on Nov. 2.
The GOP needs 10 Senate seats and 39 in the House to take over Congress. Rally participants, who paid $25 a ticket to hear Palin and a succession of top state party leaders, waved signs emblazoned "Fire Pelosi," a reference to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Palin made a strong pitch for Florida GOP nominees and predicted the party would prevail, at the state and national levels. But she said everything depends on "our ground game in the next 10 days."
Rubio said to cheers that he would work to repeal health care reform and would have voted against stimulus money.The RNC chairman and Gov. Palin both criticized incumbent U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, the Democrat congressman who has been accused of getting a third-party candidate to run in his race under the "Tea Party" label in an attempt to siphon votes from Daniel Webster, his Republican challenger. The 2008 vice presidential candidate referred to Grayson as a "jackwagon," military slang for a useless person or piece of equipment.
"This election is about turning out and voting," Rubio said. "This is all it's about right now."
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele thanked Tea Party supporters for their contributions to the Republican Party.
"They restored our faith in the Constitution," Steele said.
Update: CNN also covered the rally here. The Orlando Sentinel's story is here. The Pensacola News Journal's report is here.