Sarah Palin tells Tea Partiers to pick a side

POSTED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 1:11pm
UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 8:53am

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin urged tea party activists on Tuesday night to “start picking a party.”

In remarks to a fundraising dinner for the Arkansas Republican Party reported by CBS News, Palin praised the anti-tax tea party activists for their independence, but urged the “grand movement” to start thinking about joining one of the two political parties.

Now the smart thing will be for independents who are such a part of this tea party movement to, I guess, kind of start picking a party,” she said.

Palin suggested the grass-roots activists consider “Which party reflects how that smaller, smarter government steps to be taken? Which party will best fit you?”

“And then because the tea party movement is not a party, and we have a two-party system, they’re going to have to pick a party and run one or the other: ‘R’ or ‘D,’” she said.

Palin was speaking Tuesday as Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele was meeting with 50 tea party leaders in Washington.

After a more than four-hour meeting, Steele and the grass-roots organizers agreed to keep a dialogue open and meet on regional levels. The tea partiers would not, however, commit to supporting GOP candidates or to holding off from savaging Republican candidates in primaries.

Palin has been making an aggressive play of late to situate herself as a leader of the movement, recently speaking to the first-ever National Tea Party Convention in Nashville.

The Arkansas Republican Party said it hoped to raise $400,000 off of the event, according to The Associated Press.