On Feb. 18, the American Conservative Union announced GOP 2008 vice presidential candidate and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will speak at the 2013 CPAC conference of conservative political activists in Washington D.C. on March 14, according to a press release from the organization’s website.
The firebrand former governor remains one of the conservative movement’s brightest stars and a Tea Party favorite, meaning her appearance is guaranteed to generate a frenzied reception in the political world since Palin's relative silence after she parted ways with cable network Fox News Channel in late-January 2013.
In all her previous visits from her home in Wasilla, Alaska, former Gov. Sarah Palin commanded the attention of the national media while making personal appearances in the 48 contiguous states. Sarah Palin played a prominent role in the 2010 congressional elections by campaigning across the country for conservative and Tea Party candidates, many of which won their campaigns that year.
She stoked widespread speculation about a possible entrance into the 2012 presidential race by taking a bus tour of several states in June 2011 that was accompanied by an enormous media presence chronicling her public events. Palin’s bus tour was so successful that it inspired a similar effort from President Barack Obama in August 2011 in an effort to rekindle support ahead of the 2012 election.
The American Conservative Union expressed their excitement about Sarah Palin’s confirmed speaking engagement at the 2013 CPAC conference by telling its supporters in its Feb. 18 press release:
“Since her vice presidential run and governorship, Sarah Palin has remained one of the leading conservative voices in the nation and has authored one of the most successful non-fiction books of all time, Going Rogue, An American Life. She has consistently focused attention on dozens of national races that have changed the face of Congress and continues the fight to bring commonsense conservatives to public office.”
Many astute political observers from across the political spectrum publicly declared their belief that Sarah Palin would beat President Barack Obama in the 2012 election before she announced her decision not to seek the presidency that year.
Former Democratic National Committee chairman and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean told The Hill in a June 2011 interview that President Barack Obama could be defeated by Sarah Palin in the 2012 election, saying:
“I think she could win. She wouldn’t be my first choice if I were a Republican but I think she could win. Any time you have a contest — particularly when unemployment is as high as it is — nobody gets a walkover. Whoever the Republicans nominate, including people like Sarah Palin, whom the inside-the-Beltway crowd dismisses — my view is if you get the nomination of a major party, you can win the presidency, I don’t care what people write about you inside the Beltway.”
Palin’s former running mate, Arizona Sen. John McCain made a similar statement in May 2011 about his confidence in the popular former Alaska governor’s ability to beat President Obama.
Sarah Palin even told ABC broadcasting personality Barbara Walters in December 2010 that she believed she could be victorious in the 2012 election against President Barack Obama if she chose to run by responding directly to a question about her chances, saying:
“I believe so, I'm looking at the lay of the land now, and ... trying to figure that out, if it's a good thing for the country, for the discourse, for my family, if it's a good thing.”
Given the Romney-Ryan campaign's abysmal performance in losing all five of the states the candidates had lived or grown up in, it is hard to see how Sarah Palin would have lost any more of the states the 2012 Republican ticket did, while it is very easy to envision her having been a lot more competitive in places like Iowa, Ohio, Florida, and Colorado.
In fact, Sarah Palin and John McCain won more votes in 2008 than Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan did in 2012 against President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
For conservative activists, Tea Party voters, and fans of Sarah Palin, they will always wonder what might have been in 2012, but the popular former vice presidential candidate will continue to influence the country’s political discussion and command the national media stage with her 2013 CPAC speech.
Steven Holmes is the Los Angeles Political Buzz Examiner.