(CBS/AP)-- Channeling Margaret Thatcher and wielding a 7-Eleven Big Gulp, former Alaska governor and 2008 vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin delivered a 26-minute soliloquy on the state of American politics today to a loudly ecstatic audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference, throwing thinly veiled blows at Mitt Romney and not-so-veiled punches at President Obama, Michael Bloomberg and the media.
Palin, who since parting ways with Fox News has largely faded from public view, said taking the stage at CPAC felt like "coming home," despite having only spoken at the group's annual congregation once before, in 2012.
"When we were here last year," she said, "the words on everyone's lips, and the wish in your heart, was for Barack to pack 'er up and bubble-wrap the Nobel and the clubs and the hi-tops and head on back to Chicago. Well, the election came and went, but the campaign never stopped.
"...Mr. President," Palin continued, "we admit it: you won. Accept it. Now step away from the teleprompter and do your job."
No issue or estate was off the table for Palin, who after summoning the "liberal media folk" in the room at the Gaylord Hotel at Maryland's National Harbor to raise their hands if they were furiously filing their "annual conservatives-in-crisis story," offered one all-encompassing message to send to Washington: "Get over yourself; it's not about you."
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Introduced by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the self-described "hockey mom from Wasilla" wasted no time diving into the gun violence issue that in the months since the shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school has flooded national debate: "I like Texans," she said of Cruz. "They don't mess around with our Second Amendment rights."
For Christmas, Palin and her husband Todd bought each other a hunting rifle and a gun rack - an exchange which, she said, in the future could be affected by legislation being tendered by the White House and Senate Democrats that threatens to "take away the good guys' freedom." Palin said the proposal for universal background checks, which passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, is a "dandy idea, Mr. President - should've started with yours."
Seeming intent on defying the policy-dunce reputation she earned on the '08 campaign trail through a series of damning interviews, Palin got specific about the ongoing budget turmoil on Capitol Hill, charging that the Democrat-controlled Senate's failure to offer a budget in recent years is "in violation of article 1, section 9, clause 7 of the U.S. Constitution." No budget, she continued, "means no leadership - and it's time for America to get more outraged about this."
At one point, she casually pulled out from behind the podium a 7-Eleven Big Gulp, and began slurping away - an homage to the sugary drinks that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to ban. Palin assured the wildly applauding crowd: "Bloomberg's not around - we're cool."
Slurpie slapstick aside, forging ahead the conservative cause requires an "adult conversation," not just "rebuilding the party, or rebranding the GOP," she said. The country currently doesn't have leadership from Mr. Obama, she said. "We have reality television," said Palin, whose own reality show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska," enjoyed a one-season run on TLC.
"We can't just ignore ... that we just lost a big election - came in second, out of two," Palin said. Throwing to her Alaskan roots, she analogized: "Second position on the dogsled team is where the view never changes, and the view ain't pretty."
With the 2014 midterm election 20 months away, Palin advised, "now is the time to furlough the pollsters ... if we truly know what we believe, we don't need professionals to tell us."
In what seemed to be a deliberate contrast to last cycle's nominee, Mitt Romney, who was surreptitiously videotaped telling a closed-door fundraiser that 47 percent of Americans aren't worth "worrying about" because they consider themselves "victims" and won't vote for him anyway, Palin rallied conservatives: "It's time to stop preaching to the choir, and let's grow."
"We must share our powerful message of freedom and liberty to all citizens, even those who may disagree on some issues," Palin said, "because there is solid, common ground in fighting against government overreach and for independence. And those who may disagree with us on some issues, they're not our enemies. They're our sisters and our brothers; our neighbors and our friends."
"If we truly believe the words of our other founding document, the Declaration of Independence, with its world-changing assertion that, yes, all men are created equal," she continued, "then there are no Hispanic issues or African-American issues or women's issues; there are only American issues."