Santa Barbara (California, US), Feb.6 (ANI): Former Alaska Governor and 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin told an audience of conservatives here on Friday night that there won't be another like (former president) Ronald Reagan, but that did not mean the next crop of Republican presidential candidates, her included, won't be reaching for his mantle.
Reagan was governor of California and his 1980 election marked the culmination of a 16-year ascent during which time he led the conservative movement.
None of today's candidates carry such sweeping credentials.
Reagan, who would have been 100 on Sunday, has become the standard by which all Republicans are compared, they have little choice but to echo his lines, imitate his pitch and project his optimism.
"Woe to the candidate that doesn't try to claim the mantle," said Frank Donatelli, a longtime Reaganite who is chairman of the Reagan Ranch Board of Governors.
Donatelli added: "It's almost a requirement because he is still so popular among Republican voters."
Palin recounted how Reagan had been "mocked and ridiculed and criticized," something that she, too, has experienced.
Palin called the Gipper "one of a kind" in her address at a conference center here.
"He refused to sit down and be silent about an out-of-control, centralized government that overtaxed and overreached in utter disregard of constitutional limits," said Palin, who often boasts in her stump speeches that she won't "sit down and shut up."
"He put up with so much and he was able to handle that criticism," she said, noting that she had recently asked some of Reagan's contemporaries how he managed to tolerate the attacks. The former Alaska governor suggested she would be just as happy among the foot soldiers of the new conservative vanguard as being out front, leading the charge.
"There isn't one replacement for Reagan, but there are millions who believe in the great ideas that he espoused. There's a whole Army of patriotic Davids out there across this great country, ready to stand up and speak out in defense of liberty," Politico quoted Palin, as saying.
The Reagan festivities will continue Saturday night in Illinois - the former president's boyhood home - where the state GOP is hosting a fundraising banquet in downtown Chicago.
Each of the 2012 presidential contenders was invited to join the dinner honoring Reagan, and three are slated to attend: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton and ex-Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, who just ruled out a presidential bid, also is expected to speak. (ANI)