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The Globe and Mail

Is she one of us? Palin trumpets NHL, Olympics, Canadiana

People think she talks like us.

At a sold out dinner in Hamilton last night, former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin said that Americans she encounters often mistake her for a Canadian because of her distinctive manner of speech.

"They think that we talk alike," she said, joking that the comparison might not be perceived as a flattering north of the border. "I'm the dingy one and they're asking me if I'm Canadian on the campaign trail."

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Nine hundreds tickets were sold at $200 a pop for the politician's address at Carmen's Banquet Hall billed as "An Intimate Evening with Sarah Palin."

For a rumoured $200,000 speaker fee, Ms. Palin delivered few intimate details and more non-stop stream of consciousness in her hour-long speech.

Standing behind a lectern in a tailored black blazer, her husband, Todd, seated behind her, she touched on topics ranging from the Tea Party movement to energy production to her eldest son's childhood aspiration to be Wayne Gretzky.

"This is such a melting pot. I love this diversity," she said of Canada.

"Freedom isn't free and we do have to fight for our freedom," she observed of the continuing war in Afghanistan.

Only occasionally glancing at notes, Ms. Palin spoke extemporaneously, offering tables of formally dressed men and women the next best thing to a Tina Fey impression.

She quoted the football coach at the University of Notre Dame and explained how she found out she was pregnant with her fifth child, and later learned that he would be born with Down syndrome.

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Her sentences often lasted longer than congressional filibusters, gliding from one topic to the next in a tone that remained upbeat and calm.

The onetime Alaska governor has established a whirlwind presence on the speaking circuit since her brief time on the presidential stage, although her appearances have been dogged with controversy.

Speaking at a Tea Party convention in Nashville earlier this year, she was photographed with notes written on her hand. And the rider for her appearance at California State University this month was found by students and made public, outlining her demands for a private jet and bendy straws.

In Hamilton, she also had something written on her hand, a reminder to congratulate her audience on Canada's gold medals at the Olympic Games in Vancouver.

She bungled a joke about Los Angeles being one of Canada's biggest cities, the punchline being that all those Hollywood types always threaten to move north if the Republicans win the White House.

Although she called her trip to Canada a "shift from the political," Ms. Palin mentioned speculation about the 2012 presidential election and her relationship with the anti-big-government Tea Party movement.

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She received a large round of applause when she described the grassroots events as an "amazing manifestation of America's pioneering spirit."

"You see all forms of partisanship and non-partisanship," she said. "The hecklers are funnier than heck."

For much of her address, Ms. Palin attempted to build references to Canadiana into folksy tales of her life.

One of her grandfathers was born in Manitoba, she said, and another in Saskatchewan. Both of them were bootleggers.

"There's never a boring story when it comes to the Palins," she added.

She advocated for a Hamilton NHL franchise and praised Canada's energy production.

"We need to ramp up production so that we can ramp up our economy and get it back to life … because the better our economies do the better we do," she said.

With copies of her best-selling memoir Going Rogue for sale in the lobby, Ms. Palin also paid tribute to the highlights of her personal mythology, which has rocketed her to the top of some conservatives' dream ticket for 2012.

She referenced her oldest son's enlistment in the army, her youngest son's Down syndrome, and her daughter's teenage pregnancy.

Attempting to describe the events as earth-shattering, she stumbled and called them "an earthquake equivalent of."

But she also condemned attacks on her speaking style from the liberal media, who, she said, often misrepresent her words.

Despite the critics, she attempts to maintain a positive attitude, she assured the crowd:

"As Plato has said: 'be nice to everyone.' "

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