ABC News’ Imtiyaz Delawala Reports: In her first public speech since she and her running mate Sen. John McCain conceded the 2008 presidential election, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin expressed disappointment in the 2008 election results. But she urged her fellow Republican governors to help lead the party back by challenging an all-Democratic leadership in Washington through implementing conservative policies in their own states.
“Of course there was disappointment. You run to win,” Palin said of the election before a panel this morning at the Republican Governors Association’s (RGA) annual meeting in Miami, Florida. “But for us, it was not our time, it was not our moment. But it is our country, and the winner will be our president, and I wish Barack Obama well as the 44th president of the United States.”
While Palin was often an attack dog on the campaign trail questioning President-Elect Obama’s readiness to be president, she praised Obama’s potential today.
“If he governs with the skill and the grace and the greatness of which he is capable, we’re gonna be just fine,” Palin said. "And as he prepares to fill the office of Washington and Lincoln, know that this is a shining moment in American history."
Palin was the featured speaker before the RGA’s morning panel entitled, “Looking Toward the Future,” which featured Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC), Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), General Tommy Franks, and conservative columnist Bill Kristol.
After widespread Republican losses across the country, Palin urged her party not to become negative, saying they should challenge Democrats in Washington on issues such as energy and health care policy through effective reform efforts in their own states.
“So now with recent elections wrapped up, yup, on the federal level we are now the minority party," Palin said. "But let us resolve not to become the negative party, too eager to find fault or unwilling to help in this time of crisis and war."
“Losing an election does not have to mean losing our way," Palin added. "And for governors, the way forward leads through our own state capitals, in reforms that we will carry on or begin anew. And I promise you, Americans will be looking to their governors for reactions, for stepped-up leadership, and for our ability to unite and to progress."
Palin dismissed speculation about her own political future — with many now believing she will be a top candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
"Let the pundits go on with their idle talk about the next election, what happens in 2012," Palin said. "Our concern should be about our state’s next great reform, our next budget, our next opportunity to progress in the states that we serve."
Palin joked about the whirlwind she has been swept up into in recent months, as she went from an obscure state governor to the national political stage through her selection as the Republican vice presidential nominee.
“Honored to be here, get to speak with and to my fellow governors,” Palin said. “It hasn’t been that long I think since we all gathered, but I don’t know about you, but I managed to fill up the time.”
“Let’s see, I had a baby, I did some traveling. I very briefly expanded my wardrobe,” Palin jokingly added, referring to the flap over the $150,000 in clothes purchased for Palin and her family for the campaign trail. “I made a few speeches, met a few VIPs, including those who really impact society like Tina Fey. Aside from that, it was pretty much same old, same old.”
While her running mate Sen. John McCain did not make a public appearance for a week after Election Day, Palin has been on a media blitz in the last week.
Palin spoke twice with reporters in Phoenix the day after the Republican ticket’s loss, and twice more in the days after her return to Alaska. Since Monday, Palin has participated in four national television interviews, answering the charges of anonymous critics of her role in the campaign, while hinting at her own future in national politics.
Before the panel, Palin participated in a press conference with her fellow Republican governors, giving brief remarks and answering four questions. Media interest has remained high in Palin’s future – she has been swarmed by cameras in her two days in Miami, and her remarks at the RGA conference were aired live by all three cable news networks.
When asked how she would use the “political celebrity” she’s gained since being named the Republican vice presidential nominee, Palin again dismissed questions about the campaign and her own future plans, and reiterated that she will focus on her work as Alaska governor.
“As far as we’re concerned, the past is the past, it’s behind us," Palin said at the press conference. "And I, like all of our governors, we’re focused on the future. And the future for us is not that 2012 presidential race. Its next year, and our next budgets and the next reforms in our states.”
“We are united and we understand what it’s going to take to get this economy back on the right track, national security issues, immigration issues, education reform, health care reform, those issues that we deal with every day in our states,” Palin added. “We want to reach out to the new administration and offer our assistance, our support, offer solutions and I think that we’ll be sought by the new administration, by Congress, and we’re here to help."