Despite the dismal turnout for Jacksonville anti-abortion group Heroic Media’s “An Evening of Hope” event, keynote speaker Sarah Palin still managed to stray from pregnancy to politics.
The event was essentially a showcase for the organization responsible for the various “Pregnant? Worried?” billboards popping up around the state, and consisted mostly of fundraising efforts from Heroic spokespeople, including Southeastern President Deborah Ortiz, who implored the audience to donate money to help fund more Florida advertisements: “We need $1 million. I’m looking for someone to give $50,000, two couples to give $10,000 … so that we can increase our advertising efforts in the state.”
Earlier in the night, Heroic Director Mark Nelson made the same please: “If we could raise $122,000, we can run 10 weeks of television commercials. … With $3,850, 10 weeks of Facebook ads.”
The cheapest seats to the event were $50 ahead, and though the price tag for keynote speaker Palin is currently unknown, it’s a safe bet that it was quite expensive. In January, Politico reported that Palin’s going rate was around $100,000.
State Sen. John Thrasher introduced Palin as one of “America’s leading advocates for less government, fewer taxes, and more personal freedom” and said that her life was a “testimony to the values” of Heroic Media.
The former Alaskan governor came to the stage in typical Palin fashion. After a rousing ”Do you love your freedom?” she playfully told the senator that she loved his name because, “in Alaska, [calling someone] a thrasher means they’re a really tough snow-machiner.” She also made light of her time spent on the 2008 Republican presidential ticket, telling audiences she was “a neophyte on the campaign trail” and admitting she “didn’t always know what [she] was doing.”
And though she spoke passionately about the organization she said worked at “building and affirming life,” she made a point to speak freely about politics. Palin received a standing ovation upon her mention of President Obama’s health care reform, saying “it is essential that we use the 2010 elections to end ObamaCare.” Calling the health care bill “the mother of all unfunded mandates,” Palin said that President Obama was the “most pro-abortion president to ever occupy the White House” and that his time in office had been “a trail of broken promises.”
Though she said that the “biggest advance of abortion [has been] the advance of ObamaCare,” Palin didn’t place all the blame on the current president. When speaking about Florida’s much-publicized ultrasound bill, Palin was quick to charge Governor Charlie Crist with vacillating over an issue he had once espoused. She said the bill “would have provided women with a picture of their baby,” but that “unfortunately, current Republican — well, I don’t know if he wants to be a Republican — decided to veto the bill [because] he had lost his pro-life convictions.”
Later in the evening, Sen. Thrasher also reprimanded Crist for his veto of the bill, saying that, come November, he needs to be “held accountable.”
Later in her speech, Palin said that leaders were needed “to bring this country together under God, under the Consitution and under the Declaration of Independence.” And, though she said that policies were important in the abortion discussion, the private sector “can do it better than government.”
Palin grew personal during a story of giving birth to son Trig while working as Alaska’s governor, saying that she was initially scared to go public with news of her pregnancy: “Some of the old sourdoughs and their neanderthal thinking. … ‘Look, we elect a woman and what does she do? Go and get herself pregnant.’”
Daughter Bristol (who Palin hinted would be a contestant on next season’s Dancing with the Stars) was also mentioned. Calling her a single mother and a full-time student, Palin said that she was proud of her daughter for “gracefully plowing through the embarrassment” of harsh media inquiries. Utilizing one of her now-infamous one-liners, Palin said that she personally takes all of the media’s tough shots in stride: “I’m not gonna retreat, I’m gonna reload. Because I know you’ve got my back.”