If one of Mitt Romney's goals in choosing a running mate was to mine the same mother lode of conservative excitement that John McCain tapped by picking Sarah Palin four years ago, there's one additional dilemma for Romney to address: Palin is still around.
A day after Romney unveiled House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential pick, Palin suggested in a statement posted by her Fox News colleague Greta Van Susteren that she would not speak at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa.
“This year is a good opportunity for other voices to speak at the convention and I’m excited to hear them,” Palin said in the statement, which was widely interpreted to signal that hers would not be among those voices...
A Romney campaign spokesperson declined to comment on whether Palin had been offered a prime-time speaking window in Tampa, rather than a less coveted daytime slot.
“Gov. Palin is an important voice and leader in the Republican Party,” Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades said in an emailed statement to RCP. “While she will be missed in Tampa, Gov. Romney looks forward to working with her to defeat President Obama, turn our economy around and strengthen America’s middle class.”
The Romney campaign has long maintained an internal policy of speaking only glowingly of Palin in public settings, but their concern remains evident that she is a polarizing figure in an election that will be decided by voters with whom she is not popular.
BuzzFeed.com reported on Saturday that in alluding to the differences between the Ryan pick and McCain’s choice of Palin, one senior Romney adviser sarcastically referred in an email to “the number one policy wonk in the country . . . Sarah Palin.”
Commenters on the pro-Palin website Conservatives4Palin.com reacted angrily to the news that she would not speak at the convention, and a prominent GOP strategist with close ties to the Tea Party told RCP that he blamed the Romney campaign for not fully appreciating what Palin brings to the table.
“The Romney campaign from day one has missed her draw to the Tea Party,” the strategist said. “Even with Paul Ryan, they still miss that she’s been there from the beginning.”
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