Should Sarah Palin speak at GOP convention?

Sarah Palin electrified the 2008 GOP convention, but many gaffes later, even conservative critics are wary of how a Palin speech in Tampa could impact the 2012 race and presumptive GOP standard-bearer, Mitt Romney.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP/File
Former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin delivers the keynote address to activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington in this February file photo.

Should Sarah Palin speak at the Republican Convention in Tampa next month? The question arises because the time is drawing near, and the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate has yet to receive her podium invite. In fact, it’s not clear whether Mitt Romney’s forces want Palin to show up in Florida at all. It’s an apparent snub about which Palin sounds philosophical, yet vaguely wistful.

 “I’m sure I’m not the only one accepting consequences for calling out both sides of the aisle for spending too much money, putting us on the road to bankruptcy, and engaging in crony capitalism,” the former Alaska governor e-mailed Newsweek reporter Peter Boyer for a story on the subject published earlier this week.

The reasons why the presumptive 2012 GOP nominee might not want Palin around are obvious. She’s polarizing. She’s not great at interviews or off-the-cuff remarks. Democrats love to dislike her, and she’s not popular with independents. Her overall favorability scores are quite low. Her reality television show was a little . . . odd. She’s a reminder of a losing campaign Republicans would just as soon forget. And so on.

Plus, Mr. Romney doesn’t really need her. The theory is that a Palin appearance might win him greater Tea Party support. But at this point Republicans have all pretty much rallied behind Romney, whether they love him or not. Polls show he receives the overwhelming support of GOP-identifying voters.

Even some conservatives think her appearance in front of a Tampa microphone might be a bad idea.

“I think the negatives of such an appearance outweigh the net positives for those whose sole electoral goal is to get Obama out of office,” writes contributor Dustin Siggins at the conservative Hot Air web site.

However, here’s one point the nabobs of negativism may be forgetting: Sarah Palin is really, really good at giving convention speeches to Republicans.

Remember her 2008 St. Paul speech? We were there, and she blew the roof off the arena. At the time, delegates were a bit wary of a presidential nominee many felt lacked charisma and might be a closet moderate. (Sound familiar?) So when Palin asked them if they knew the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull, and then supplied the answer – “lipstick” – they leapt up and roared.

Who’s going to provide that kind of jolt for committed conservatives this time around? Herman Cain? Shucky ducky, no way. Rick Santorum? Nope, he’s still bitter. Rick Perry? Oops.

“She’s Numero Uno with the very voters who distrust Romney. If they can trot her out there for 10 minutes, and write remarks (and make her stick to them) that say in essence, ‘You don’t have to love Mitt Romney, but you do have to vote for him,’ I’d think that Romney would want that very much,” writes Daily Beast special correspondent Michael Tomasky today.

Yes, Democrats will howl that Republicans are promoting someone who’s mangled the history of Paul Revere’s ride, taken a hugely promoted national bus tour promoting her own noncandidacy, and otherwise served as a media-abetted gaffe production industry.

But Romney has not flinched from embracing such controversial GOP figures as Donald Trump and Dick Cheney. Why not Sarah Palin?

“Gov. Palin motivates and arouses an entire base,” said former Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich on conservative Laura Ingraham’s radio show Tuesday. “[She] should absolutely have a speaking slot.”

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.