Palin rouses the faithful at CPAC

Sarah Palin mounted the stage at CPAC on Saturday to a thundering ovation and proceeded to lay out her vision for the future of the Republican party.

The Hill:

The next election is 20 months away. Now is the time to furlough the consultants, and tune out the pollsters, send the focus groups home and toss the political scripts. Because if we truly know what we believe, we don't need professionals to tell us," Palin said, one of at least a dozen lines that received standing ovations and sustained cheering from the crowd.

Her remarks echoed the prevailing anti-establishment sentiment of the conference, which typically attracts a large Tea Party and libertarian contingent of the Republican Party. Dozens of speakers before Palin also railed against the "consultant class" and urged attendees to take back control of the party.

The conference's focus on the establishment versus grassroots reflects a wider rift in the party overall, following disappointing losses in 2012, when Republicans were largely caught off-guard by faulty polling assumptions and weak candidates in a number of Senate and House races.

A conflict has emerged between establishment Republicans, who hope to have a greater influence over party primaries in 2014 to prevent similarly weak candidates from costing them winnable elections, and the grassroots of the party, who would prefer party elders stay out.

In her speech, the former vice-presidential nominee weighed in on that conflict, charging that "the last thing we need is Washington, D.C., vetting our candidates."

And in a veiled reference to Karl Rove, one of the main establishment figures in the party debate, Palin suggested the "architect...s [of 2012] should come back to the Lone Star State and put their name on the ballot."

Rove is from Texas, and is known for the nickname "the architect."

Palin pleased the crowd with a number of punchy one-liners that drew laughter and widespread applause.

She criticized President Obama for claiming to want to have the most transparent administration ever, charging "Barack Obama, you lie!" a reference to a House member shouting the same thing at Obama during a 2009 joint address to Congress.

And she lambasted the president for, she said, continuing to campaign instead of govern.

"Now step away from the teleprompter, and do your job!" she said.

Katherine Trinko wonders about Palin's future:

Matt Mackowiak, a Texas-based GOP strategist, agrees that Palin is a formidable player in political races. "Where she has greatest impact right now is in primaries, where she chooses candidates and campaigns for them and brings enormous earned media and fundraising and tea-party support," he says.

But with no Senate races in 2013, there will be no opportunity for Palin to make a splash with endorsements. Palin's other big media foray, her Fox News contract, has also ended. "I don't know whether you can remain politically relevant just by putting Facebook posts up," Mackowiak mused. "So the next year is an interesting year for her."

There's no doubt Palin can remain a popular (and well-paid) speaker on the conservative circuit. But if she wants to be something more -- whether powerbroker or elected politician -- she'll have to win over more than the crowd at CPAC.

All politicians need a platform from which to keep their face in front of the public and comment on issues of the day. I would expect that Palin would turn to talk radio or back to television for the kind of exposure that will keep her in the public eye until the 2014 primaries.

After that, her options are wide open and a decision about her future in electoral politics will be forthcoming.

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