Palin spars with GOP over fundraiser

Hours before a big Republican event, it's still not clear whether the governor will appear

By Vincent Rossmeier

Published June 8, 2009 6:01PM (EDT)

Call it the Sarah Palin two-step: Over the weekend, there was a new twist in a running feud between the governor of Alaska and the GOP over whether she will appear at a Monday night fundraiser for two party campaign committees. On Saturday, Palin was told she would not be able to address the crowd at the dinner, an annual event put on by both the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. After having gotten this news, Palin was likely to skip the fundraiser altogther, Politico's Jonathan Martin reported.

Now, though, the governor may attend after all. Greg Sargent reports that Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, who heads the NRCC, is working hard to get Palin reinvited to the fundraiser. And a Fox News report quotes an anonymous Republican source who said, "We don't expect her... But with (Palin), you never know. She may just show up... We'll say nice things about her... But she's so unpredictable. She just thought she could swoop in."

The bickering between Palin and the GOP over the fundraiser dates back to March. Originally, Palin was announced as the main speaker at the event, but there was then a great deal of confusion between Palin, her representatives, the NRSC and NRCC and the media about whether Palin had actually committed to appearing. So the NRSC and NRCC eventually revoked their invitation and asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to headline instead.

Then, according to Martin, last week the NRSC again asked Palin to speak as a surprise guest. This offer was then rescinded Saturday night. An unnamed Republican official told Martin, “You dance with the one who brung ya.” Since Gingrich has been helping with the preparation for the event, the GOP will be dancing with him.

At this point, the whole thing is basically just gossip, but it does highlight a fissure within the Republican Party that may be widening and bears watching in the run-up to the 2012 presidential campaign. At a time where the party often appears directionless and without a clear leader, GOP officials seem unsure whether they want to embrace Palin or not. And the on-again, off-again uncertainty doesn't reflect well on a party that many political pundits feel is in disarray.

Palin hasn't covered herself in glory during this saga, but she may come out the winner anyway, especially as her political strategy has been improving generally in recent days. She's adopted a more low-key approach, and it seems to be working for her. Among other things, she managed to draw a crowd of 20,000 to a speech she gave Saturday in Auburn, N.Y. 

And then she pulled off what seems to be a particularly shrewd move: She gave an interview to Fox News' Sean Hannity that is scheduled to be broadcast at 9 p.m. tonight -- meaning it will overlap with the fundraiser. Whether she intended it this way or not, it sends a pretty powerful message to the Republican Party: You need me more than I need you, and if the establishment of the party rejects me, well, I can go off and get even more publicity on my own.

Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

MORE FROM Vincent Rossmeier

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Fox News Republican Party Sarah Palin War Room