From Andrew Coffin, vice president of Young America’s Foundation and director of the Reagan Ranch, in an exclusive opinion piece for Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism website, comments on Sarah Palin's Friday visit to the ranch and her keynote address that night:
The Governor gave a powerful speech at our banquet last night, before an enthusiastic overflow audience. She eloquently and gracefully paid tribute to one of the most significant speeches in American history, Ronald Reagan’s “Time for Choosing” address—while at the same time outlining a vision for America that builds upon President Reagan’s.- JP
The speech was universally well received by our audience of all ages. But the New York Times chose to focus on some of the logistics of the event in their account...
The Times account is simply not accurate. Here’s the amazing thing about yesterday’s events: they were as much about Gov. Palin coming to Santa Barbara to soak up the spirit of Ronald Reagan as they were about her delivering a keynote address. And on top of that, she was incredibly gracious with her time.
Everything about the Ranch reflects the great American, and, particularly, western ideals that Ronald Reagan cherished: hard work, responsibility, stewardship of the land, freedom, and opportunity.
It was clear on Friday that Governor Palin is a leader cut from the same cloth—it is these great western ideals, and the way they could be seen at the Ranch in small but telling details, that she viscerally connected with. And I have to admit, it was fun to see up close how genuine that was connection was.
Governor Palin went out of the way in her speech to not lay claim to the mantle of Ronald Reagan. “Many people today are looking for the next Reagan. But he was one of a kind, and we won’t see his like again,” she said later in her speech, but it’s his principles and values to which we must lay claim.
Filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon, director of several films on Ronald Reagan, was present throughout the Governor’s trip. “Throughout the day,” Steve told me, “whether it was Ranch hands, students, staff, or donors, it was obvious to me that Governor Palin was there not for herself but to give of herself. She epitomized the values she mentioned in her speech—those of duty and service she equated to our grandparent’s generation.”
Fast-forward to later that evening, following a speech in which Governor Palin spoke convincingly of her appreciation for the experience she had at the Ranch. The New York Times got this part right—the Governor was immediately whisked out of our main ballroom to an upper floor when she finished her remarks. But she wasn’t on her way out. Instead, the Governor had agreed to individually meet and pose for a photo with each of our 325+ guests that evening. When she walked into our Reagan Ranch Center Exhibit Galleries, a group of college students flown in from around the country for this special weekend was already waiting for her. They broke out into spontaneous applause as she entered the room, the Governor rushing right in to begin shaking hands and learning names. One young man sheepishly asked if he could have a hug from the Governor—and, of course, she willingly obliged.
The Times reporter Jeff Zeleny could have asked about any of this, but chose not to. Or perhaps he was just disappointed that he didn’t get his hug.