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Sarah Palin: GOP must broaden its message

OXON HILL, Md. -- Returning to the national stage, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said Saturday that the Republican Party must broaden its message in order to grow.

"We must leave no American behind," she said in a speech that electrified supporters at the Conservative Political Action Conference in a Maryland suburb of Washington. "And we must share our powerful message of freedom and liberty to all citizens -- even those who may disagree on some issues."

Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate, maintained a low profile during last year's election. She's expected to play a limited role in the future of the GOP but shared recommendations Saturday at the annual meeting of conservative activists.

Instead of focusing on rebuilding the GOP, she said that party leaders should focus on rebuilding the middle class.

She jabbed President Barack Obama and the Republican professional political class alike. Palin urged the crowd to reject the ideas of consultants and pollsters, taking a not-so-subtle dig at Karl Rove, a former adviser to President George W. Bush. "The architects can head on back . . . to the great Lone Star State, and put their name on some ballot, though, for their sake, I hope they give themselves a discount on their consulting services," she said.

But Palin saved her most pointed criticism for the president. On Obama's call for universal background checks on gun buyers, she said, "Dandy idea, Mr. President -- should have started with yours."

Palin drew cheers when she paused for a sip of 7-Eleven's Super Big Gulp. "Oh, Bloomberg's not around," she mocked. "Our Big Gulp is safe." She was referring to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg attempt to ban sugary fountain drinks larger than 16 ounces.

Earlier, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky won CPAC's straw poll for the 2016 GOP presidential primary with 25 percent over Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who had 23 percent.

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