Despite an overcast and snowy day, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin spoke outside the Wisconsin Capitol in Madison Saturday to rally Tea Party members.
"I feel like I'm at home," she said to cheers from the crowd.
Palin praised Wisconsin's governor and legislature for overcoming "death threats and thug tactics," to pass a controversial bill that virtually eliminates public employees' collective bargaining rights.
"You held your ground, your governor did the right thing, and you won," she said. "He's not trying to hurt union members. Hey, folks, he's trying to save your jobs and your pensions!"
Palin, who frequently cites her familial connections to unions as well as her own union membership, supports Walker's plan, and in the past has called on union members to "sacrifice and carry our share of the burden. It does no one any favors to dismiss the sacrifices others have already had to make -- in wage cuts, unpaid vacations, and even job losses -- to weather our economic storm. ... You don't have to kowtow to the union bosses who are not looking out for you, but instead are using you."
"A pension is a promise that must be kept. Your governor Scott Walker understands this," Palin said on Saturday. "He understands that states must be solvent in order to keep their promises."
During her speech, Palin called out to the beltway GOP, telling them that she and the rest of the Tea Party will fight with them if they stand by their pledges, and then took swings at President Obama, saying he has increased American debt and mismanaged the recession.
"Hey media, it's not inciting violence and it's not hateful rhetoric to call someone out on their record," she said.
"We're flat broke and he thinks these solar shingles and really fast trains will magically save us," she said. "So now he's yelling 'all aboard' his bullet train to bankruptcy."
In regard to Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan, Palin said Obama "demonized the voices of responsibility with class warfare and with fear mongering."
The Madison rally was sponsored by the Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group. Pro-labor protesters could be heard around the rally, shouting "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Scott Walker's got to go," according to The Associated Press.
Walker defended himself this week in Washington, D.C., before a House committee, saying that his bill will save Wisconsin local governments more than $700 million a year. The bill is currently being challenged in the Wisconsin courts, and may end up before the state's Supreme Court.