Page last updated at 10:17 GMT, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Critics mock Palin's 'helping hand' at Tea Party speech

Sarah Palin appears to read from notes written on her hand

Former US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has been criticised for having crib notes written on her hand during a speech on Saturday.

Mrs Palin was shown reading from her hand and displaying the scribbled words at a Q&A session after the address.

She had spoken in the speech of a "charismatic guy with a teleprompter", apparently meaning President Obama.

Mrs Palin received a standing ovation for the speech as she called for a "return to conservative principles".

Sarah Palin at Tea Party convention - 6 February 2010
Mrs Palin's left hand displayed several key words

But a photo taken during the event showed her left hand with the words "energy", "budget cuts", "tax" and "lift Americans' spirits". The word "budget" had been crossed out.

'Cheat sheets'

Also, video footage showed her seemingly reading from her hand when asked what top three things a conservative-led Congress should do.

The footage prompted NBC journalist Andrea Mitchell to say that the "cheat sheets" were damaging in view of her attack on Barack Obama during the speech.

"If [senior Republican] Mitt Romney had notes on his hand, wouldn't we take it pretty seriously?" she said on MSNBC's Daily Rundown show on Monday.

There was controversy at the convention over Mrs Palin's appearance fee, reported to be as much as $100,000, although she said she would not financially benefit from it.

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

The year-old Tea Party movement draws together opponents of Mr Obama's healthcare reform, his economic stimulus package and other aspects of his agenda.

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