This would be a major mistake. A Romney campaign adviser has suggested that not only has Sarah Palin not been asked to speak at the GOP convention in Tampa later this summer, but they haven’t even invited her to attend the event.
[T]he Romney campaign has not asked Palin to speak at the convention nor contacted her about even attending the party’s marquee event in Tampa. Queries to the Romney camp about any possible Palin role at the convention meet with a stony silence. Palin does not seem surprised. “What can I say?” she responded in an email from Alaska, when asked by Newsweek about the convention, just before heading to Michigan to deliver an Obama-thumping speech. “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 Romney camp will not comment on Palin, or on plans for the convention, but one adviser associated with the campaign suggested that Palin would be prohibited from speaking at the Republican convention by her contract with Fox News. “It’s true I’m prohibited from doing some things,” Palin says, “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.” (Fox says her contract would not prohibit speaking at the convention if she sought permission.)
Say what you will about the former Republican candidate for vice-president, but she knows how to ignite interest and motivate conservatives. And Romney has an incredible street cred issue when it comes to his base.
The convention itself is more pomp and circumstance, a celebratory formality akin to a wrestling skit in which politicians provide over the top speeches to motivate their party to action. And motivational speeches are where Palin excels. We saw this when she turned the 2008 campaign on its head.
More recently, I had the opportunity to watch her work the crowd at CPAC, where Palin generated far more buzz than Mitt Romney could ever have hoped for. Here’s a little reminder of some ovation earning soundbites provided by Palin:
“We aren’t red Americans, we aren’t blue Americans, we are red white and blue Americans and, President Obama, we are through with you!”
“We will never apologize for America’s strength and our greatness… we refuse to accept that a weak America means a better and safer world.”
“The president says small-town Americans, we bitterly cling to our religion and our guns because we’re just doggone frustrated with his pace of change. We say, ‘Keep your change. We’ll keep our God, our guns, our Constitution.’ ”
“Hope and change? Yea, you gotta hope things change.”
“This is Obama’s Washington. It is not the Washington of our founders, but the Washington of the permanent political class. It is something that our forefathers never envisioned as they would have sworn their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor to change.”
“He says he has a jobs plan out, a jobs plan to ‘Win the Future.’ W.T.F. — I know.”
Whatever the reasons, the Romney campaign needs to rethink this strategy. His biggest obstacle in November will be an unmotivated base who think he’s little more than Obama lite.
There is no better person to light a fire under the voters, and widen the enthusiasm gap between Romney and Obama even further.
Bury the hatchet. Invite Palin. Let her speak. And enjoy the results.