Mitt Romney’s campaign knew they would have to deal with Sarah Palin at the convention. On one hand, they should have known that 2012 will be a so-called “base election” in which the side that best mobilizes its base wins. To that end, there is not a figure on the right that energizes and excites Tea Party conservatives and Evangelicals like Palin. She is the north star of the Tea Party movement that changed the political landscape in 2010. Not inviting Palin would threaten to piss off the conservative base that has never warmed to Romney.
On the other hand, a prominent, primetime speaking slot for the former vice presidential candidate would surely overshadow Romney the technocrat. Palin’s 2008 convention speech and vice presidential debate were two of the most watched performances in political history. Romney’s dilemma could turn out like Ronald Reagan’s impromptu remarks at the 1976 convention and, to a lesser extent, Pat Buchanan’s stemwinder of a speech at the 1992 convention which overshadowed Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, respectively.
Like everything that has come down the pike this campaign season, the Romney campaign was caught flatfooted and unprepared for delicate questions about Palin’s role at the convention.
As of now, according to Newsweek’s Peter Boyer, Palin has not been invited to the convention.
Boyer writes that “queries to the Romney camp about any possible Palin role at the convention meet with a stony silence.”
“What can I say?” Palin responded via e-mail to Newsweek about the convention not being given an invitation yet. “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.”
Palin added: “In accepting those consequences, one must remember this isn’t Sadie Hawkins and you don’t invite yourself and a date to the Big Dance.”
The Romney campaign cannot get their reasons straight about the Palin invite. First, they suggested Palin’s contract with FOX News may prevent her from speaking at the convention. This was false, according to FOX News.
“It’s true I’m prohibited from doing some things,” Palin told Newsweek, “but this is the first I’ve heard anyone suggest that as an excuse, er, reason to stay away from engaging in the presidential race. I’m quite confident Fox’s top brass would never strip anyone of their First Amendment rights in this regard.”
Then, after heat was put on them, the Romney campaign told The Washington Post that the convention schedule was still in flux.
As of this writing, Palin has not been given an invite to the convention, and whether the Romney campaign will extend their hand to her is still unknown.