Here's a write-up of Palin's Arkansas speech by Suzi Parker of the Daily Caller:
The battle for 2012 began in Arkansas on Tuesday night when Sarah Palin brought her celebrity to an arena filled with state GOP elite and Tea Party commoners who had never attended a political event....
Here on Huckabee turf Tuesday night, Palin obliterated any thought of the former governor. She received a .44 magnum as a welcoming gift, cementing her street cred with the Second Amendment crowd. Not unusual, except in Arkansas, Huckabee has always been the hunter-in-chief.
“Huckabee is focused on his show,” says one GOP insider. “He hasn’t even said he is running so I wouldn’t read too much into his absence tonight.”
Still, it’s never too early to start courting votes and currying favor for a potential presidential run. And Palin on her first visit to Arkansas performed such a task in spades.
People left an earlier meet-and-greet in tears. Women hugged her and said they wished she was their daughter. More women than men wore Palin buttons.
She said as much when she told the story of duck hunting with her father as a girl. When buckshot rained over her, she said she was scared. “It’s just buckshot, just duck,” Palin’s father said. “I apply to today with all the crap out there. It won’t hurt you.”
Palin often praised Arkansas, known as the Natural State, as being similar in values and landscape to Alaska. She mentioned Wal-Mart several times. The company was a sponsor of the event.
She stood patiently as the crowd called the Arkansas Razorbacks with the traditional “Woo Pig Sooie.” She took pre-selected questions from Webb about hunting, threats to the United States (terrorism is number one), and the Tea Party (she loves those people).
Arkansas historically votes Republican in presidential elections. The McCain-Palin ticket won the state by 20 percentage points in 2008. It’s also trending red for the 2010 midterms. And there’s no guarantee that native son Huckabee has the beloved reverence — or strong base — that propelled Bill Clinton to the White House....
As one veteran politico said at the Palin event, “She’s a rock star.”
That’s what they use to say about Bill Clinton.
On the rifle presentation:
The Republican Party of Arkansas presented keynote Speaker Sarah Palin with an engraved Henry Repeating Arms Big Boy 44 Magnum rifle last night at their fundraising event at the Verizon Arena in Little Rock. The rifle was personalized with serial number PALIN-001, the brass receiver was inscribed with ‘Presented to Sarah Palin - February 16, 2010 -Republican Party of Arkansas’ and the Republican Party of Arkansas’ logo was carved into the buttstock.
Palin began her keynote speech in front of a cheering crowd of 5,000 by thanking the Republican Party of Arkansas for the beautiful rifle, noting that she even called her son Track to tell him about it, and stated, “It’s great to be in a state where it’s okay to cling to your guns and religion.”
President Lincoln was presented with a Henry rifle during his presidency. It hangs in The Smithsonian and has become a priceless national treasure.