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Palin: Reagan 'was one of a kind'

By Rebecca Stewart, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "You are not going to find his kind again," Palin says of Reagan
  • She says considers herself "a western conservative in the spirit of Ronald Reagan"
  • "We can choose 'the swamp' or 'the stars,'" she says

(CNN) -- Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called President Ronald Reagan "one of a kind" and trumpeted his leadership and legacy in a speech at the Reagan Ranch Center.

She appeared Friday at an event that was part of the celebration of Sunday's centennial of his birth.

"Today there is a lot of people looking around for the next Ronald Reagan, but he was one of a kind and you are not going to find his kind again. And the Gipper wouldn't want us to spend our time on that anyway," she said Friday evening at the center in downtown Santa Barbara, California.

Outlining Reagan's path to the presidency, she said, "In 1964 the conservative movement heard him. ... In 1966 California listened to him. In 1976 finally the GOP rank and file listened to him. In 1980 the nation listened to him and, in 1984, the whole world heard him."

Comparing her own journey with that of the 40th president, she said, "As an Alaskan I proudly consider myself a western conservative in the spirit of Ronald Reagan, in that tradition, because I know he understood the small-town pioneering spirit and values of hard work and rugged individualism. And love thy neighbor. Those are the values that we grew up with. Those are the values that Ronald Reagan embodied. They are the values of his ranch."

The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee echoed her own vow, in an interview last month, to refuse to "sit down" and "shut up," saying that Reagan "refused to sit down and be silent as our liberties were eroded by an out-of-control centralized government. ... He saw our nation at a critical turning point. We could choose one direction or the other.

"Socialism or freedom and free markets ... collectivism or individualism. In his words, we can choose 'the swamp' or 'the stars.'"

Those words came from Reagan's 1964 Republican National Convention address, when he spoke of facing enemies and the consequences of failure.

"We are at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it has been said if we lose that war, and in so doing lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening," Reagan said.