Sarah Palin plays to the crowd during stop in Boise

The Idaho StatesmanMay 22, 2010 

BOISE, Idaho — Idahoans were proud to cling to their guns, religion and protest signs Friday as they gave native daughter Sarah Palin a star's welcome home.

Palin, who was born in Sandpoint and graduated from the University of Idaho, came to support Republican Vaughn Ward in his tight primary race with GOP State Rep. Raul Labrador in the 1st District. But before she spoke, Ward, a former Boise State Bronco football player, had to say two words: "Go Vandals."

For his efforts, Palin delivered a powerful endorsement, calling Ward "one of the most promising conservatives" in the nation. She said he's pro-gun, pro-life, will fight for lower taxes and the free market.

"He's the real deal," Palin said.

Ward's authenticity has been challenged by Labrador after a series of Ward's campaign missteps, but Palin suggested Labrador's references to Ward's miscues were negative charges that "really diminish a candidate" for bringing them up. But she reserved her strongest criticism for the press.

"The left and some of the 'lamestream' media, they can really play dirty sometimes. Trust me on this one, I know," Palin said.

The former GOP vice presidential candidate told around 1,500 people at Qwest Arena to "expect more dirt to be slung," and she called on them to "hold the media accountable when they twist and turn what Vaughn said."

She said the media attacks on conservatives go against what she learned about journalism as a U of I communications major.

"I think it's appalling," Palin said, "and a violation of our freedom of the press."

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