So says Newsweek, and apparently Sarah Palin. Six weeks out from the Republican convention in Tampa, Palin has yet to get an invite to the big show. According to Newsweek’s Peter J. Boyer, Tea Party activists are furious over the snub … although there seems to scant evidence of that in the article itself:
Palin would certainly light up the base at the convention—her 2008 vice-presidential acceptance speech was, in terms of partisan enthusiasm, the high-water mark of the McCain campaign—but a jolt of Palin at Romney’s convention seems most unlikely. The Romney campaign prides itself on a slavish adherence to script, and Palin cannot be trusted to avoid the impulse to go rogue. That is why, perhaps, the 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.”
“In accepting those consequences,” she added, “one must remember this isn’t Sadie Hawkins and you don’t invite yourself and a date to the Big Dance.” …
“Romney’s just not a fighter,” says Jenny Beth Martin, head of the Tea Party Patriots, the largest of the activist groups. “That’s why it would be good for him to have someone like Palin speaking at the convention. He needs to do something to rile up his base, to make them enthusiastic. And I don’t mean just the Tea Party. I mean die-hard Republicans. I live in the second-most-Republican county in the state of Georgia, and the folks around here are not enthusiastic about him.”
The lead-in splash at the top of the web page says, “The Tea Party is livid” over a lack of an invitation (see update), but has anyone heard this? We’re at least in contact with a number of Tea Party organizations, and to my knowledge none of us has heard that Palin won’t get an invitation to speak, nor of anger over a lack of an invitation to this point. In fact, I’m not sure we know of anyone who has been inked into a specific speaking slot, including some of the actual presidential contenders from this cycle.
The quote from Martin is the only one Boyer provides from any grassroots leaders, by name or anonymously, and it doesn’t seem very “livid” to me. Most of Boyers’ assessment of Tea Party activists come from a rehash of commentary and reaction to Romney during the nomination fight. The Romney camp apparently declined to respond to Boyers (with one exception, to which I’ll return momentarily), and they declined to respond to me when I asked them about this article today, preferring to focus on their new strategy to attack Obama over his crony capitalism.
After reading the article, there doesn’t appear to be much in which to respond, frankly, except one point. The article seems to be pretty heavy on sourcing from Palin’s camp, and very little from Tea Party activists. In fact, it seems very heavily sourced from Palin herself. The one comment made by “one adviser associated with the campaign” was that they thought Palin’s contract with Fox would preclude her from speaking at the convention, which Palin refutes herself on the record (and Fox concurs). It looks like a shot across the bow, leveraged through Boyers with some very weak Tea-Party-is-angry dressing, aimed at Team Romney to give Palin a platform in August. We’ll see if the message is received, and what the response will be.
Update: The “livid” part came from the “dek” that gets added by editors, not by the reporter. If you put that expectation aside, the article is actually pretty straightforward. Also, be sure to read what Herman Cain has to say about Tea Party temperament, which is — to no one’s great surprise — skeptical but open to convincing.