Over 1,500 Iowans gathered in Des Moines tonight for a glimpse of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.  Palin was the headliner for the Iowa Republican Party’s annual fall fundraiser, the Reagan Dinner [more photos].

Iowa G.O.P. chairman Matt Strawn says the party cleared at least $100,000 from the event.

“We’ve got an energized base here already, but I think when we add Sarah Palin just six weeks out from an election, you know, I think it’s just that stringboard we need and a reminder, really, of what’s at stake and just how much Iowa has changed in two years since Barack Obama carried this state in the presidential contest,” Strawn says.

Norman Larson drove from Stanton in southwest Iowa to see Palin. He says Palin has something to contribute to the country.

“A Golda Meir and a Margaret Thatcher, conservatism, leadership. Our country’s lacking that desperately,” Larson says. “We have a bunch of politicians, but we don’t have any leaders and that’s what we need right now.  We have a bunch of people who speak in circles and they’re socialists, you know.  I’m going to call it like it is.”

Palin spoke for about half an hour, and blasted what she has called the “lamestream media.”

“We’ve got to hold the press accountable when you know that they’re making things up and telling untruths.  We’ve got to do this together,” Palin said, to prolonged applause from the crowd.

Listen to Palin’s speech: Palin 33:46 MP3

She also blasted the “hierarchy” in the Republican Party, some of whom have failed to rally around conservatives who’ve won party primaries in other states.

“This is it GOP.  This is our time.  We can’t blow it, GOP, but we won’t wait for that political playbook to be handed us from on high, from the elities, to tell us what to do.  We won’t do that because it’s we, the people — the average, hard-working, everyday people, the patriots who will turn this around,” Palin said. “It’s the voters that will stop these leftist policies.” 

Palin’s presence in Iowa — the state which will hold the first contest in the 2012 presidential election — sparked speculation about  Palin’s presidential ambitions.  Palin joked about that at the beginning of her speech, saying her husband had advised her not to jog outside earlier today after she arrived.

“Todd says, ‘I don’t know.  I think you should go downstairs, run on that treadmill.’ And I said, ‘Why would I want to stay indoors?’ Todd says, ‘Cause I guarantee you if anybody spots you in tennis shoes, the headline’s going to be — Vanity Fair, they’re going to say — Palin, in Iowa, decides to run,”‘ Palin joked.

The most recent issue of Vanity Fair has a lengthy article about Palin. 

Palin mentioned Terry Branstad and Brenna Findley, Iowa Republican candidates she’s endorsed, and she joked about Iowa’s senior senator.  “Senator Grassley has a special place in my heart,” Palin said. “He’s the only guy I know who loves to Twitter as much as I do, for one.” The crowd laughed. 

Grassley has been ranked about the top Tweeters on Capitol Hill and Palin used Twitter and Facebook to make endorsements as well as other political waves.