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Sarah Palin condemns Obama at first Tea Party convention

Palin said the Tea Party should not be based around one figurehead

Former US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has spoken at the first US Tea Party convention, urging a return to conservative principles.

Speaking in Nashville, Mrs Palin called President Obama's 2011 budget "immoral" and said it would raise the US debt.

The year-old Tea Party movement includes many people who oppose Barack Obama's plans for healthcare reform and the president's stimulus package.

Mrs Palin said future generations would pay the cost if spending was not cut.

"It's easy to understand why Americans are shaking their heads when Washington has broken trust with the people that these politicians are to be serving," she told the convention.

'Drowning in debt'

When she warned that the US was "drowning in national debt, and many of us have had enough," the former governor of Alaska was rewarded with a standing ovation.

I am a big supporter of this movement. America is ready for another revolution and you are part of this
Sarah Palin

She also berated the Obama administration for focusing on adversaries of the US rather than its allies.

"We need a foreign policy that distinguishes America's friends from her enemies, and recognises the true nature of the threats that we face," Mrs Palin said.

She praised the leaderless, bottom-up approach of the Tea Party movement, saying its success had Washington politicians running scared.

"I am a big supporter of this movement," she said, and added - in a nod to the Tea Party's name, a reference to a famous protest against British colonial rule: "America is ready for another revolution and you are part of this".

Congress goal

Barely a year old, the Tea Party gained influence during the acrimonious US healthcare reform debate.

TEA PARTY
The movement takes its name from the 1773 protest against British taxation, the Boston Tea Party
American colonists rebelled against attempts by Britain to impose parliamentary taxes on them without allowing the colonists representation in the British parliament
The modern-day Tea Party is described as a grassroots movement that supports limited government and opposes high government spending
The informal movement is unified against President Barack Obama's healthcare proposals, his economic stimulus package and other aspects of his agenda

Members, gathered from state-level Tea Parties, complain that big spending to stimulate the economy is being wasted in Washington and on Wall Street while small-town America has to tighten its belt.

And the coalition of disaffected conservatives is undoubtedly growing in influence - its endorsement of Republican Scott Brown helped his election last month as Massachusetts senator, says the BBC's Madeleine Morris, attending the Nashville event.

Our correspondent says that movement's organisers have announced the formation of a political action committee, with funds of $10m, whose goal will be to get up to 20 conservative candidates into Congress in November's mid-term congressional elections.

There has been controversy over the use of paid lobbyists and PR companies at the conference and Mrs Palin's appearance fee: reported to be as much as $100,000.

Some activists have also complained about the $500 (£317) registration fee for the Nashville conference.

But in an opinion piece published on USA Today website ahead of the conference Mrs Palin said she would not benefit financially from speaking at the event.

Instead she said she was motivated only by her "goal [...] to support the grassroots activists who are fighting for responsible, limited government - and our constitution".



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