Dressed in their formal evening attire, some 2,000 Safari Club members spent $100 each for Reno’s hottest ticket — Palin’s speech behind the closed doors of the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino’s Tuscany Ballroom.
Palin’s words, however, could occasionally be heard.
During a 40-minute speech, she talked of her love for the outdoors and the “delicate balance” between hunting and fishing and the outdoors.
“… I personally understand the importance of protecting the environment,” she said.
Hunting and fishing, Palin said, are part of America’s “heritage” and the country’s “exceptionalism.”
“Don’t retreat, stand tall,” Palin told the crowd as she emphasized the importance of “responsible conservation.”
Palin also spoke of Second Amendment rights.
“We need to keep tabs on what the White House is telling us,” she also said.
She later said Americans would need to “count on Congress,” where the GOP regained control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November’s election.
But Palin emphasized the importance of local governments in setting policy.
“The best (management) is local” not “bureaucrats thousand of miles away” in Washington making the decisions, she said, drawing on her experience as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, before becoming that state’s governor….
Heidi Smith, Republican national committeewoman for Nevada, considers the lucky ones to be those who got their hands on the tickets.
“I know a lot of people wanted her to do something for the (local) Republican Party, but right now she is a hunter and a shooter, and that is what Safari got her for,” Smith said. “They’re paying the big bucks for her.”
Smith’s phone had been busy the past few days with local residents asking how they could see Palin.
“We have always had a lot of people excited to see her,” she said. “Whether people feel that she is presidential material or not, they still want to hear what she has to say. Reno is pretty happy to get her back again.”
Political science professor Fred Lokken of Truckee Meadows Community College said he considers Palin’s Safari Club appearance a “coup” for Reno and an “excellent” move for her.
“It’s always been a who’s who of some of the prominent conservative Republicans, so frankly for her either to get the invite or be able to wrangle the invite, it really helps her as she tries to position for 2012 and after,” he said. “This is one of the places to the seen.”
Palin’s visit will carry momentum beyond Reno since the Safari Club event draws visitors from afar, many of them wealthy.
“You come to one place, you talk for 50 minutes and hopefully create a buzz as they all go back to their respective states,” Lokken said. “They are probably all known, if not prominent, in their party circles back in those states.”
Palin’s appearance came as potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates stake out their ground.
“Being able to come to a group like this (gives) some street cred that might help her to sort of reestablish or bolster her efforts at building a campaign for 2012,” Lokken said. “It’s a guns rights place. They are huge in the Second Amendment. Her whole connection to Alaska probably makes her one of the most logical people they have had in years.”
Though Palin’s Reno speech Saturday was closed to the public, Smith offered a prediction: “Wait a few months, and she’ll be back to the Republican headquarters.”