Chief Political Correspondent Byron York covered Sarah Palin's Reagan 100 Celebration keynote address for the Washington Examiner:
Sarah Palin came here to declare that President Ronald Reagan "was one of a kind, and you're not going to find his kind again." But in a carefully-crafted speech marking Reagan's 100th birthday, the former Alaska governor drew a series of parallels -- some explicit, some implied -- between Reagan and herself, and between Reagan's time and today.- JP
Palin was invited to speak by the Young America's Foundation, which owns and maintains Reagan's old ranch in the mountains near Santa Barbara. (The foundation is separate, and more aligned with the conservative movement, than the Reagan Presidential Library, which is also holding commemorative events this weekend.)
"This is a time for choosing again," Palin said, "and the vision we outline here is just as stark as it was in 1964."
A Palin insider says the former governor watched "A Time for Choosing" several times and was struck by Reagan's stern tone, as well as the applicability of his themes to today's events. Then, as she was working on the speech, Palin watched President Obama's state of the union and become convinced that, rather than adopt a more centrist path, Obama planned to continue pushing big-government programs. Those two thoughts, the insider says, formed the core of Palin's speech.
Lee Edwards, a Reagan biographer and fellow at the Heritage Foundation, was in the audience and took note of the fact that Palin was speaking to a strongly conservative group at the Ranch Center. She likely wouldn't be invited to speak to a more general audience at the Reagan Library, Edwards said, "because she's not a member of the establishment, and they're not comfortable with her."
"The irony," Edwards continued, "is that neither was Reagan."
Palin ended her speech by noting that she is not calling for Republicans to unite behind any specific leader. "There isn't one replacement for Reagan, but there are millions who believe in the great ideas that he espoused," she said. But of course those millions pick a candidate to represent them. And in Santa Barbara Friday night, Palin did nothing to discourage those who believe she is laying the foundation for a future candidacy. It might not be in 2012 -- remember the years between "A Time for Choosing" and the Reagan White House -- but it could be on the way.