A Tea Party Convention scheduled for next week was supposed to be the tea partiers' big coming-out party, the moment when they showed they could get together and organize and be more than just protesters. They even have former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin booked to be the keynote speaker, which, though they're paying her what's reportedly as much as $100,000, is something of an achievement, as she's turned down more established conservative events. And she wasn't the only establishment conservative star to agree to attend.
But from the beginning, others on the right have been skeptical about the convention's organizers, the Tea Party Nation; RedState's Erick Erickson, for instance, said the whole thing seemed "scammy." The $549 ticket price hasn't helped matters.
Now, two of the biggest names besides Palin have pulled out. Reps. Michele Bachmann and Marsha Blackburn, Republicans from Minnesota and Tennessee, respectively, had both been booked to speak -- Blackburn was supposed to introduce Palin. But on Thursday, both announced that they'd reconsidered. Their offices are attributing their decisions to advice from the House Committee on Standards.
"There is uncertainty about how any proceeds from the event may be used, and we must err on the side of caution," CNN's Political Ticker blog quotes Debbee Keller, Bachmann's press secretary, as saying.