The grassroots Tea Party movement is an anti-establishment network largely motivated by anger over what they see as the growth of government and a ballooning budget under Barack Obama, the US president.

'Hope-y, change-y stuff'

Obama's election win in 2008 marked the decline of Republican Party's political influence, but the victory of Scott Brown, a Republican, in the Massachusetts senate election in January has prompted speculation that the Republicans are recovering.

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Brown took a seat that had been held for decades by the Democrats.

In her speech, Palin, who was a 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee, pointed to the Massachusetts win and asked: "How's that hope-y, change-y stuff workin' out for you?"

But overall she talked little about the Republicans and even encouraged "tea party"-aligned candidates to compete in Republican primaries, saying: "Contested primaries aren't civil war; they're democracy at work and that's beautiful."

She criticised Obama for continuing to blame George Bush, his predecessor as president, for the nation's woes instead of blaming what she called the Democrat's own big-government, big-spending agenda.

Palin also labelled Obama's 2011 budget proposal as "immoral", because it increases national debt, and attacked the $787bn stimulus plan, asking: "Did you feel very stimulated?"

On foreign policy and national security, Palin said that Obama had shown "misguided thinking" and a pre-September 11, 2001 mindset, saying: "We need a commander in chief", not a professor of law.

"Foreign policy can't be managed through the politics of personality," she said.

For-profit event

Palin's fee was $100,000 for the appearance at what was a for-profit event, but she said she would not keep the money, instead giving it back to "the cause".

Admission was $549 for access to the entire three-day event, or $349 just to hear Palin's speech after a dinner of lobster and steak at the Gaylord Opryland resort.

The cost has led to criticism from some activists that it runs counter to the coalition's image and could preclude people from attending.

Palin has several other Tea Party appearances scheduled in the coming weeks.