As her self-imposed deadline to decide on a presidential run nears, Sarah Palin told a robust crowd of about 1,000 people here Monday that the Tea Party has thrived without a single standard-bearer and would continue to do so.

“The Tea Party movement is bigger than any one person, and it’s not about any one candidate,” Palin said. “And thank goodness we don’t have any one single leader. The movement is about bringing together debate and discussion of solutions from ‘We, the people,’ not the politicos.”

“Let’s talk straight about some of the problems in trying to grow this movement that is so needed,” said Palin, who has said she will decide on whether to run for president by the end of September. “It’s media-incited internal squabbles, unfortunately, and we can nip some of that in the bud right here and right now because we’ve got a lot of work to do, constitutionalists. Our challenges today are too great. We simply don’t have time to be bogged down in internal conflicts and friendly-fire conflicts.”

Palin’s warning about “internal conflicts” may have been a reference to protests that greeted former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s appearance here on Sunday. As he attempts to court the Tea Party vote more actively, Romney made an appeal to avoid squabbles between Tea Party groups and mainline Republicans.

Palin’s appeal for Tea Party unity may also have been an effort to tamp down the fallout from some thinly veiled remarks she made in Iowa that appeared to be aimed at Texas Gov. Rick Perry — the current front-runner for the Republican nomination.

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