In her second Long Island appearance since the 2008 presidential election, outspoken former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin joined Long Island Association (LIA) President Kevin Law and hundreds of attendees at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury on Thursday, answering questions ranging from the recent events in Egypt to gun control, health care and the possibility of a run at the White House in 2012.
“I am still thinking about it,” Palin told the packed audience, which included Nassau and Suffolk county executives Ed Mangano and Steve Levy as well as her daughter, Bristol, regarding her presidential aspirations. “I certainly haven’t made up my mind.”
Palin did say, however, she believed the economy would once again be the top issue headed into that contest.
“Here’s the deal,” Palin said, “the economy is going to be top of the ticket in terms of issues to campaign on.”
Law, seated in a chair alongside Palin, kicked off the event and Q & A session—a tradition at the LIA’s annual membership meeting and luncheon—by introducing the former Alaska governor as having been a major political player since her failed bid as U.S. Sen. John McCain’s running mate.
“No one can deny the enormous impact that you have had on national politics and policies in just the last two years,” he told attendees. Palin, who resigned as governor in 2009 before finishing her first term, has since penned a best-selling memoir, starred in her own reality show and become a frequent punit on the Fox News Channel.
Palin wasted no time continuing that rhetoric, criticizing President Barack Obama for the “confusion” of his administration as to whether Mubarak should stay or go when asked by Law about the recent Egyptian demonstrations and regime change.
She stressed that she didn’t want to see the Muslim Brotherhood take over the country.
“You have to remember what is that they stand for,” Palin said of the group. “And if they’re radical enough to already spoken against liberties and freedom then you have to wonder is this a good deal for Egypt and America’s interest.”
“We have to trust that these protesters truly want democracy,” she said of those who camped out for nearly three weeks prior to the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, who was president of Egypt for three decades until last week.
Palin also attacked the Obama administrations about health care.
“We can’t afford it and we didn’t want it to start with,” she said. “We wanted practical reforms.”
She had a few choice words regarding Obama’s handling of the national debt and his new budget proposal: “What the people of America are saying is enough is enough no more status quo,” she said. “We don’t want to keep growing the debt.”
As she was talking about the price of commodities, specifically the price of milk, Palin mocked First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiatives to promote healthy eating habits.
“No wonder Michelle Obama is saying you should breast feed your babies,” she quipped. “I’m looking and say, ‘Yeah, you better because the price of milk is so high right now.’”
Law also asked Palin about gun control, a hot topic in the wake of the Tucson massacre and failed assassination of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) last month. Palin had been criticized for posting on her website a “Target List,” complete with gun crosshairs, of Congressional members who voted in favor of Obama’s health care reform. Giffords’ name was included on that list.
“The criminal, he was an evil sick person, and adding another law to the book would not, I believe, have prohibited him from somehow someway fulfilling his mission,” Palin said of accused gunman Jared Loughner.
Law pressed further, invoking U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola), whose husband died and son was maimed during the Long Island Rail Road massacre in 1993, and asking Palin why somebody who’s not a member of law enforcement should be allowed to have a 30-bullet gun magazine.
“Do you think that a bad guy whether a law on the books says that you can’t have 10 bullets or you can have 30 bullets, do you think they’re going to go to the regulations and read it and say, ‘Okay I can’t do that?’” she asked. “No they’re not. The bad guy’s going to do what he’s hell bent on doing and they need to be held responsible for those criminal evil acts.”
Some in the audience applauded her remarks.
After the event, Keri Meras, CFO and CPA of Hauppauge-based Young Equipment Sales, said the event left her with a better understanding of Palin than ever before.
“Honestly I’ve learned more about her today than I knew in the past and I liked what she had to say on most issues,” she said.
Meras added her impression that Palin was straightforward and honest, and she supports her on many of the issues she discussed.
“I actually agree with her,” Meras said. “[President Obama] is making a few big mistakes that’s going to hurt us and they need more of a business mind in there.”
Phyllis Hill Slater, a member of the LIA Board of Directors, told the Press she was impressed with what Palin had to say, calling her an inspiration to all Americans.
“I think it was a wonderful thing to have her come and speak to us, especially at this time,” she said. “I think that she’s a great inspiration, not just for women but for people.”
“I think that she’s a straight talker and she’s just like everyone else, you know sometimes we’re misunderstood,” Hill Slater said. “And I think [Palin] has a great message to all of America, that we have a roll to play in making our elected officials accountable for what they do for our future.”
Even though Palin officially said she hasn’t made up her mind yet about 2012, she might have given those in attendance a tiny hint.
“Nobody is more qualified really to multitasking and doing all the things you need to do as president than a woman,” Palin told Law.
“I would vote for her,” Meras said, proudly.