TULSA — Oklahomans have an opportunity to tell an overreaching federal government to back off by voting for a state question that would allow the state constitution to forbid U.S. regulations that force people to buy health insurance, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told an appreciative crowd Wednesday night.
"It's your chance to send Washington a message that you've had enough," Palin, a Republican, told those attending the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs Liberty Gala at the Tulsa Convention Center. Close to 1,000 attended, said a spokesman for the Oklahoma City-based conservative think tank.
Palin was referring to State Question 756, which would amend the state constitution. It is on the Nov. 2 ballot.
Palin also encouraged the crowd to support U.S., Rep. Mary Fallin, R-Oklahoma City, in her bid for governor.
Palin and U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who headed up the 2008 GOP presidential and vice presidential ticket that won all of Oklahoma's 77 counties, endorsed Fallin earlier this year. Fallin was among more than a dozen Republican elected officials in attendance.
About 20 protesters were outside the Tulsa Convention Center about 30 minutes before the dinner started.
But inside, the crowd showed its appreciation by applauding and cheering her.
"We love you," one man yelled after Palin finished her nearly hourlong speech.
Palin criticized Democratic President Barack Obama for his policies that she said increased deficit spending and increased the federal government's control.
"This march toward socialism changes us as a free people," she said, saying it makes people more dependent on the federal government.
Obama's health care plan, which passed earlier this year, should be repealed and replaced, she said to applause.
Obama's plan, intended to make health care accessible to more Americans when it fully takes effect in 2014, appears to be a failure, Palins aid.
More doctors are leaving the health care system, and insurance premiums have increased, along with health care cost, she said.
Palin also criticized Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress for approving a $787 billion stimulus package of spending projects and tax cuts designed to jump-start the economy.
The program is not working, she said, saying it was intended to reduce unemployment, which is about 10 percent, to 8 percent.
"They're already looking at the son of stimulus," she said.
"It didn't end up stimulating anything except the two-party movement."
Palin said Obama was wrong to use federal money to bail out private companies, such as auto manufacturers.
"By and large, let the government get out of the way of the private sector," she said. "Don't bail it out if it fails."
She said was encouraged by Tuesday night's upset victory of Christine O'Donnell, whom she supported in the Delaware U.S. Senate race.
Of the 36 candidates facing contested primaries that she has endorsed, 25 have won for a win ratio of nearly 70 percent.
She called for Republicans to set aside their differences in the primaries and focus on defeating candidates of the Democratic Party, which Palin called a "weakened, leftist party."
"It is time now for unity ... and set aside the internal struggles," Palin said.
Angie LaPlante, vice chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, drove from Edmond to hear Palin.
She saw her speak at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., and at the Norman book-signing, where she got to shake Palin's hand and get her to sign her book.
"I like to hear what she has to say and her take on the political arena," LaPlante said. "She's very charismatic."