Has she gone rogue again? Sarah Palin takes aim as Mitt Romney keeps her out of convention

 

Washington

Four years ago, she was the new Republican sensation, the most electrifying vice-presidential nominee in recent history. Now, it seems, Sarah Palin may not even be granted an official speaking slot at the party's coronation of Mitt Romney in Tampa, Florida, at the end of next month.

The detailed convention schedule is still a work in progress. But the lack of an invitation thus far, first reported by Newsweek yesterday, is a measure of Ms Palin's decline within the party and of the desire of the obsessively controlling Romney campaign to avoid any unwanted surprise in the meticulously choreographed proceedings.

These days, party nominating conventions are little more than free four-day party broadcasts. But the former Alaska Governor is the anti-Romney; headstrong where he is cool, impetuous and off-the-cuff where he is bland and scripted, and ever-prone to gaffes.

She has faded from the headlines since she announced last autumn that she would not run in 2012. Indeed, the mantle of daily celebrity in the Palin household has passed to her 21-year-old daughter Bristol – a single mother, motivational speaker and reality TV star. But Ms Palin still has a diva's power to upstage everyone, not least Mr Romney himself, to whom she has given only tepid endorsement. But excluding her from the festivities carries its own risk. Mr Romney has still failed to galvanise that part of the Republican base that adores Ms Palin but remains distinctly wary of his conservative credentials and might take her absence as a deliberate snub.

The lady herself is putting a philosophical face on things. "What can I say?" she told Newsweek from Alaska, before leaving for Michigan to deliver an Obama-bashing speech. "I'm sure I'm not the only one accepting consequences for calling out both sides of the aisle for spending too much money, putting us on the road to bankruptcy and engaging in crony capitalism."

She is also unlikely to be the only scheduling problem for team Romney. Conventions are a time for party unity, and some former rivals such as Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich will be probably accorded their moment in the prime-time sun. But the likes of Herman Cain and Donald Trump are another matter.

And if she doesn't go to Tampa, Ms Palin may console herself in knowing she would not be the only recent such snub. It happened in 2008, when John Edwards, John Kerry's running mate four years earlier who was by then mired in the Rielle Hunter scandal, was barred from the Democrat's convention in Denver.

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