Former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin called upon conservative voters at CPAC on Saturday (February 11) to oust U.S. president Barack Obama and rally behind the Republican nominee, but she stopped short of endorsing any of the four Republican candidates still in the race.
Palin won resounding applause from the audience when she issued a battle-cry on behalf of Tea Party activists and warned the Washington "establishment" that they would win a majority of seats in Congress in the November.
"Be aware Washington, Tea Party patriots are alive and well," said Palin. "We'll elect more, and this time, establishment, we expect them to get leadership posts in Congress."
Palin also urged conservative voters to "return power to the people" by ousting President Obama and what she referred to as his "failed policies."
"He is sinking our ship of state," she told conservative activists. "When a ship is going down, the last thing you need is a community organizer just reorganizing the deck chairs while singing 'Let's Stay Together'."
While Palin stopped short of endorsing any of the remaining contenders vying to be the next Republican presidential candidate, she did, however, describe the ideal candidate as someone who is "ready, strong, fortified" and "a fighter for American ideals."
"Our candidate must be someone who can instinctively turn right to constitutionally conservative principles," said Palin. "It's too late in the game to teach it or to spin it at this point - it's either there or it isn't."
Palin's speech followed the straw poll conducted among attendees of the conference, in which former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney won 38 percent of the vote, beating Rick Santorum, who took 31 percent. Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose campaign has been fading, had 15 percent, and libertarian Congressman Ron Paul won 12 percent.
Although the poll is strictly symbolic, it was a coup for Romney after his losses in three states this week.