Sarah Palin felt at home Saturday in Independence as a hockey mom and as a maverick.
"Where else can a hockey mom feel right at home but right here in the home of the (Missouri) Mavericks?" said Palin, a former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, at the Independence Events Center before a crowd of 2,500 attendees. "It takes me back to 2008."
Palin's keynote address concluded Preserving American Liberty's one-day event "Winning America Back," featuring well-known conservatives providing their perspectives on the U.S. Constitution, health care reform and recently passed legislation in Arizona that affects illegal immigrants.
Before talking politics, Palin proudly displayed a Missouri Mavericks hockey jersey made just for her 2-year-old son, Trig, who has Down syndrome. Each morning, Palin said, Trig wakes up, rubs his sleepy eyes and applauds the day.
"I think that's something we can all learn from," Palin, 46, said.
After a modest political career beginning on city council in Alaska, Palin rose to national fame in 2008 as Republican presidential candidate John McCain's running mate. She resigned as Alaska governor in July 2009 and now travels the country as a political speaker and commentator.
"What makes America exceptional isn't her politicians; it's her people," Palin said. "A culture of life is what America deserves."
Palin spoke against many of President Obama's policies, including health care legislation and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, but she also said that even Republicans often think of stimulus dollars as "free money."
She applauded the nation's Tea Party movement and encouraged residents to volunteer for campaigns they believe in, even if those running for office are the underdogs.
"They are the everyday, hardworking American," Palin said of political newcomers. "They have the common sense that we need."
Like many speakers throughout Saturday afternoon, Palin charged attendees to make a difference in their communities and to take back the principles that the United States was founded upon.
"You don't need an office and you don't need a title and you don't need a teleprompter," Palin said. "Don't let them get you down. Just keep fighting. My dad always says, 'Don't retreat. Just reload.' Don't let anybody tell you to sit down and shut up."
Palin's speech ended a six-hour day that also included speeches from former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, former Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter Liz Cheney (via a pre-recorded video message) and former Congressman J.C. Watts. The Kansas City-based Preserving American Liberty is an organization comprised of unpaid volunteers. The group aims to present positive solutions in solving governmental problems.
Attendance expectations were exceeded since original estimates called for about 1,500 attendees, said Eden Gordon, Preserving American Liberty press secretary. The events center could have accommodated up to 5,500 people on Saturday.
Page 2 of 2 - Events center staff prohibited signs and posters, but supporters still wore T-shirts with messages like "Obama care: It's just bad medicine" and buttons with images of Palin as Rosie the Riveter saying "We can do it!" Several audience members waved American flags in honor of messages they supported.
Sarah Miskew, Independence Events Center marketing director, said Saturday's event showcased the variety of programming that takes place at the events center. The event, which garnered attention from across the Kansas City area, took place just six days shy of 6 months since the events center opened.
"I think it's safe to say that we've had people here today who wouldn't have come to the events center otherwise," Miskew said.