Speculation has begun to swirl around Tampa that Tea Party favorite former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will be the “mystery speaker” who will occupy a high profile place on the GOP Convention program less than an hour before Mitt Romney is scheduled to speak Thursday night.
Governor Palin’s relationship with the GOP’s permanent political class and Washington insiders who wield out-sized influence in the Romney campaign has always been rocky. Her endorsement of Newt Gingrich in the GOP primaries didn’t endear her to the Romney campaign either, so seasoned observers of the Republican National Convention schedule weren’t particularly surprised to see her name missing.
However, grassroots conservatives and Tea Partiers were outraged, because they see Palin as one of their best spokespersons for the small government constitutional conservative cause.
They see Sarah Palin’s exclusion from speaking at the Republican National Convention as proof the GOP establishment holds them in contempt, and is not prepared to handover the seat at the table they believe they earned in the 2010 Tea Party wave election – an election that returned Republicans to control of the U.S. House of Representatives and elected many other principled small government constitutional conservatives to offices up and down the ballot.
More to the point, the Washington GOP establishment consultants and insiders who are trying to freeze Sarah Palin out of the Republican Party are costing Governor Romney big-time.
In an election that promises to be one of the closest in history, enthusiasm going into Election Day is everything.
And whether the GOP establishment likes it or not, no one in Republican politics generates grassroots enthusiasm like Sarah Palin.
Case in point: Sarah Palin’s campaign stop at The Villages in Florida in 2008 versus Paul Ryan’s stop there a week or so ago.
Ryan, who has been drawing good crowds, attracted a crowd estimated to be from "hundreds" to a few thousand. In 2008, however, Governor Palin drew a crowd estimated at 60,000 according to Mike Tucker, a local fire marshal.
Even if one accepts the low-end estimates given by the hostile establishment media, Palin consistently outdrew Senator John McCain, the GOP’s 2008 presidential candidate. So perhaps it is understandable that the McCain consultants who are now velcroed onto Mitt Romney harbor some resentment toward Palin for making them look like schmucks during the 2008 stretch run.
It is going to take an “all hands on deck” effort by the Republican Party, Tea Partiers and grassroots conservatives to defeat Barack Obama and elect a conservative majority to the United States Senate. The Romney campaign and the GOP’s party elders would be wise to ensure that one of those hands is Sarah Palin’s.