Palin fires up NRA crowd, hits Obama for using Newtown families

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Former Governor of Alaska and 2008 Republican nominee for Vice President Sarah Palin talks to CNN Sr. Producer Paul Vercammen (not shown) at her caucus site in Wasilla Alaska on Super Tuesday, March 06, 2012. (Jeff King/CNN)

(CNN) — Sarah Palin blasted President Barack Obama and gun control advocates Friday, blaming them for “exploiting” recent mass shooting tragedies to promote their political agenda.

Speaking to a welcoming crowd at the National Rifle Association convention in Houston, the folksy former governor from Alaska also used chewing tobacco at one point to draw some laughs.

Palin, wearing a shirt that read “Women hunt,” was one of several speakers at the NRA gathering who targeted the Obama administration and some lawmakers for wanting tighter firearm restrictions after the Newtown elementary school massacre.

In the days leading up to the Senate’s April 17 vote on gun control proposals, the president invited families of Newtown victims to fly on Air Force One to Washington and lobby Congress.

Newtown families also participated in media interviews and appeared in an ad made by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the pro-gun control group co-chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

When the upper chamber ultimately fell short of the 60 votes needed to pass a bipartisan compromise to expand the background check system, some of those family members stood behind the president not long after the vote as he chided Capitol Hill for what he described as a “shameful day in Washington.”

Palin argued the president was practicing the “politics of emotion” by “flying in grieving parents on Air Force One, making them backdrops in his perpetual campaign-style press events.”

Par for the course, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee faulted the media for being a “reliable, poodle-skirted cheerleader for a president who writes the book on exploiting tragedy.”

Politics of emotion, she argued, won’t make the country safer. “It’s the opposite of leadership. It’s the manipulation of the people by the politicians for their own political ends. It’s not just self-serving. It’s destructive and it must stop.”

Charging the president with being disingenuous in the wake of the shooting was a running theme throughout the day at the NRA. Palin added Obama was ignoring another tragedy.

“We could use a bit more emotion by the way of what goes on every single day on the streets of cities like Chicago and New York,” Palin said.

Speaking of New York, Palin took the opportunity to take a swipe at Bloomberg, a mayor she has vehemently opposes for what she describes as his nanny state politics. In her last big speech at a major conservative gathering in March, Palin made headlines for sipping a “Big Gulp” on stage, a knock against New York’s ban against certain large sugary drinks.

“Now I see that the mayor of New York now wants to ban public displays of legal tobacco products,” she said, referring to his recent push to keep tobacco products out of sight at stores in order to de-glamorize the product.

“I tell ya,” she said, as she pulling out a pack of chewing tobacco. “Don’t make me do it.”

With the crowd roaring, she put the pack back in her pocket.

“It’s funny because Todd’s been looking for this all morning.”

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