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Sarah Palin Praises American Entrepreneurial Spirit at RECon Convention

Posted by Dr. Fay on May 24, 2010

Slide show available here.

Governor Palin was a keynote speaker at the ICSC RECon Convention in Las Vegas on Sunday. 

Doug Bardwell reported yesterday on

Sarah Palin found a receptive audience in Las Vegas today when she spoke to some of the 30+ thousand convention attendees who packed room N1 in the Las Vegas Convention Center. An hour before she was to speak, already hundreds were lined up, waiting in the north hall to get in.

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) is having their 2010 RECon Convention at the convention center and invited her as guest speaker for the opening day general session. Michael P. Kercheval, CEO and president of ICSC, opened the session. Peter Sharpe, ICSC Chairman, then introduced Sarah Palin, who made her typical entrance, waving to the crowd and smiling.

With a room full of business owners and property developers, she quickly mentioned her admiration for the entrepreneurial spirit that has always provided the bulk of this country’s jobs. She spoke of the tremendous pride which comes from building a business where there was none before, providing work for the owner and ultimately for other people as well.

She reminded the retail crowd of a historic success story – Steven V. Harkness, born in 1818, who started many small businesses after humble beginnings as a harness maker. After also successfully operating a distillery, a bank and then an oil company, in 1890 he opened what she referred to as the first mall in this country – The Cleveland Arcade.

She then recounted when the first mall opened in her home town of Wasilla, Alaska. The economic impact of that mall was so apparent as she said every high school student got their first job working somewhere in that mall. With the wages they earned, the kids were able to finance their sports team’s trips. “The mall actually became the center of the town” she said.

Heavy applause rocked the room when she declared that “every politician should be forced to operate a small business before being allowed to hold office. Doing that develops a real work ethic,” she added. She generated a good amount of laughter as she said “Right now, so many politicians are addicted to opium, that’s spelled O-P-M, which stands for ‘Other People’s Money.’ And with that addiction comes the thinking that the money will always be there, and that you can always take it from somewhere or someone else, and not actually have to produce before you receive.”

Again, applause was forthcoming as she suggested that “the best thing government can do is to foster an environment friendly to business and then get out of the way, letting business owners do what they do best.” She described her position as being “anti-over-reach of government” and preferring instead, the “incentivizing of business to help the community thrive.”

She hit yet another chord of agreement when she decried the government picking winners and losers in the private sector (cue more applause), stating that “the free market worked best when there is competition and a level playing field for Mom and Pop businesses as well as big business.”

After defending her “Drill, baby, drill” philosophy, she steered the conversation to Nashville and how they are emerging from their recent floods. “They aren’t waiting for government bail-outs,” she said. With the spirit that makes this country so grand, people are just pitching-in, helping their neighbors clean up and start again. It’s that spirit of hard work and determination that will save this country, she pointed out.


Listening to conversations as people left the hall, it seemed that she said all the right things to a crowd of people who desperately want the economy to come back, so their businesses might prosper once again.

Eric Dostal from the Las Vegas Sun reported today:

Palin said an airline lost her luggage as she was flying from Alaska to Idaho for a Saturday speaking engagement. She said she was able to get new clothes, however, thanks to a local mall.

“What would our communities be without our shopping centers?” she asked. “Meeting our needs is what it is that you do.”

A free-market economy in which business owners have control over their destinies is best for everyone, Palin said several times during the nearly 40-minute speech. Other topics included so-called “Obamacare,” business taxes, oil and shopping.

Palin said Las Vegas is a portrait of the American entrepreneurial spirit. Just as Las Vegas was built in a barren desert, she said, small business owners know what it is like to make “something out of nothing.”

“I think that every politician who wants to run for office should have run a business before,” she said.

The crowd cheered. “You are the backbone of our nation’s economy,” she said.

Palin said she and her husband, Todd, enjoy coming to Las Vegas. Palin said she disagreed with a controversial statement President Barack Obama made last year about spending money in Las Vegas. Tourism should be encouraged, she said, because it bolsters the local economy.

“I was so proud of the good, noble mayor here, Mayor Goodman, who dared take on anyone who suggested Vegas wasn’t a good place to be,” she said. “I thought, man, he sounds like he’s goin’ rogue. He took on the president, even.”

But, Palin said, she had a confession to make.

“I’m going to tell you something that only my family and some of my close friends know about me,” she said. “I’ve never been the biggest shopper in the world.”

Despite having heralded greater domestic drilling – and famously saying “drill, baby, drill” – Palin said she hoped the Gulf oil spill would prompt the government to place stringent restrictions on oil companies that want to search for, and pump out, American oil.

Palin said while the U.S. should have strict regulations on drilling, oil companies should be encouraged to search domestically to wean the U.S. off foreign oil dependency.

On other matters, she said, the government should stay out.

Ryan Olson, a real estate broker from Bellevue, Wash., said he agrees with Palin’s free-market ideas.

“I think she hits the nail on the head when she talks about stopping wasteful government spending,” he said.


Palin said that when she served on the city council in Wasilla, Alaska, she voted against anything that would limit the freedom of businesses. She didn’t want Wasilla to pass any ordinance that would deter businesses from settling there, she said.

She says that on her watch, Wasilla grew from a town without a Wal-Mart into a small retail center.

“Other countries can look to America and see some of the … things that we do that they can emulate,” she said. “And ultimately it will help create a more prosperous, a more safer, even a freer world.”

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