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Sarah Palin will headline first-ever Tea Party Convention

Sarah Palin’s appearance is a coup for a movement now getting grudging respect from mainstream commentators. But will the feisty Tea Party movement coalesce with the GOP’s old guard?

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He says a Republican shift toward the Reaganesque Tea Party ideal could lead to a sort of pogrom for moderate Republicans, forcing out those (think Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe) who don’t hew precisely to rock-hard conservative principles around economic freedom and limited government interference.

“The Republican Party is trapped by their base, which is going increasingly conservative,” says Mr. Abramowitz. “Yes, Republicans can do fairly well in the 2010 elections – it’s entirely possible that they could pick up 20 to 30 seats in the House – but they could read the wrong message from that. In 2012, if the economy is doing reasonably well again and Obama’s popularity has stabilized, that strategy is going to be very risky and this could all come back to haunt them.”

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Democrats will target Palin and Tea Partiers

Solidly behind that assessment, Democrats are aiming to vilify the rising Tea Party movement as woefully old-school and out of touch. “Labeling their GOP candidates as being part of the Sarah Palin or Tea Party wing of the GOP will be the key element” of Democratic attacks in 2010, writes John Fund in The Wall Street Journal.

But if the Tea Party movement stays largely independent and uses its grass-roots network to help swing contested elections, other analysts say, Democrats may want to reconsider that tack and try to tap into a movement that has quickly gone from liberal laughingstock to what New York Times columnist David Brooks grudgingly calls “a major force in American politics.”

“Looks like both grand parties will have to court the tea party supporters because many of them are independents from the purple states,” writes Ellie Velinska at RightPundits.

Now enter Palin. The former Alaska governor has already expressed her simpatico feelings for the Tea Party movement, and her high-profile presence and Facebook-touted preferences for the individual over the collective will help guarantee that eyes and ears will focus on Nashville next month.

Agreeing to appear at a major Tea Party event also gives Palin a larger platform to criticize the president and Congress, and it guarantees news coverage, potentially building momentum for a future campaign.

“This is perfect for her, made for her,” says Abramowitz.


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