Mitt Romney has a Sarah Palin problem, says Peter J. Boyer in Newsweek. Just over a month before Republicans gather in Tampa, Fla., for their presidential nominating convention, Team Romney and the Republican National Committee haven't given a coveted speaking slot to the party's 2008 vice presidential nominee, or even invited her to the event. Palin and her sizable base of supporters are apparently miffed at the perceived slight, but featuring the former Alaska governor carries the risk that she'll go rogue on national TV — a discomfiting thought for the famously stick-to-the-script Romney campaign. Can the presumptive GOP nominee, already on shaky ground with conservatives and Tea Partiers, really afford to keep the base-rousing Palin away from the Republican Party's "sprawling family reunion"?
Palin isn't worth the risk: "I wouldn't blame Romney at all for wanting to distance himself from Palin and deny her a spot at the convention," says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. She would be a huge draw for GOP loyalists, but that's part of the problem: No nominee wants to be overshadowed at his own convention. Plus, "keeping Palin 'on message' would be next to impossible," and her mere presence on stage "risks alienating independent voters" right at the moment they're finally tuning in to the election.
"Sarah Palin being frozen out of Republican Convention?"
Actually, she's Romney's key to victory: The math is pretty simple, says Lindsay Mannering at The Stir: This is a base election, and Palin can get Republicans and Tea Partiers to vote in numbers Romney could only dream of. Sure, "getting too close to Palin might damage his just-right-of-center image," but "now's not the time to kick Sarah to the curb." If he doesn't want to slump back to Massachusetts, Romney will send Palin an engraved invitation, a bouquet of daisies, and a ticket to Tampa.
"Mitt Romney needs Sarah Palin if he wants to win"
This is Palin's high-stakes gamble for relevance: Everyone — including Palin — knows that nobody has been officially invited to speak at the convention yet, says Natalie Jennings at The Washington Post. So Palin's decision to gripe to Newsweek is a risky pre-emptive power play. Team Romney would prefer trying to reach Palin voters with other GOP figures, like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Gov. Susana Martinez (R-N.M.). Now Team Romney can watch what response Palin gets from this, and make its convention schedule based on whether she "can still motivate her supporters like no one else."
"Sarah Palin's convention dare"
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