ABC News' Elizabeth Gorman reports:
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the keynote speaker for the 2009 Senate-House Dinner, received big cheers Monday night when he thanked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for taking part in the GOP fundraiser.
After flip-flopping on whether she would attend the event, it was agreed late Monday that Palin would take her seat at the dinner with approximately 2,000 other guests at the Washington Convention Center.
"I felt looking at John McCain and Sarah Palin, this country would have been amazingly better off had they been in the White House," Gingrich said about seeing them greet each other before the dinner.
In his lengthy 56-minute speech emphasizing inclusiveness and unity for the 2010 and 2012 elections, Gingrich next flew to the defense of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
"I am happy that Dick Cheney is a Republican," the former Georgia congressman said. "I am also happy that Colin Powell is a Republican…A majority party will have lots of debates within the party."
Critical of SCOTUS nominee Sonia Sotomayor, Gingrich spoke out against quotas, and citing concerns over U.S. sovereignty, labeled Sotomayor wrong for the country.
He called for a President who would "reject the would-be judges ... who insist in quoting foreign precedent and foreign law, which has no application in the United States of America."
On stimulus spending, he said Obama’s plan has already failed.
"Let’s be clear, this is not something that President Obama inherited from George W. Bush. He got his stimulus, on his schedule, for his amount, delivered by his robots in Congress, who did exactly what they were told without reading the bill," he said. "So he can’t turn around now and say, ‘Oh darn, George Bush made me have a stimulus plan.' "
The event, emceed by Hollywood actor Jon Voight, raised about $14 million according to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
ABC News' Bret Hovell contributed to this report.