Sarah Palin Rallies GOP in Denver, Calls for 'Awakening in America'

DENVER -- Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin rallied thousands of Republicans to their feet in Denver with a speech criticizing ruling Democrats in Washington.

But Palin didn't mention any of Colorado's testy political fights.

In a speech to about 6,000 at the University of Denver, Palin criticized President Barack Obama and sounded classic conservative themes of smaller government and a stronger national defense.

What the outspoken conservative favorite didn't do was take sides or even mention politics in Colorado, where she's listed two House Democrats as targets for defeat, Reps. John Salazar and Betsy Markey.

Palin also didn't mention the fact that she rankled some Colorado Republicans two weeks ago when she praised former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, who is running for Senate.

Norton is battling for the Republican nomination against tea party favorite Ken Buck, who cruised to top billing on the August primary Saturday with a win at the state GOP assembly. Norton didn't participate in the assembly and will petition into ballots.

Earlier this month Palin told a group of abortion opponents that Norton was among admirable Republican women she called "pink elephants."

The praise was dismissed by Buck, the Weld County district attorney, who said, "I don't want to be a pink elephant. I'd rather be a red elephant."

Both Norton and Buck attended Palin's speech, but neither was on stage nor got a mention in Palin's remarks. Norton met privately with Palin before the speech.

Palin confined her remarks to national politics. She defended Arizona's immigration law. She said Obama's foreign policy was too weak against nuclear threats posed by North Korea and Iran. And she criticized the health care reform law and warned of peril caused by federal spending deficits.

"It's time for an awakening in America," Palin said.