Does Sarah Palin Belong at CPAC?

The former Republican presidential candidate will be speaking at the conference, but some wonder why she was invited.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin

Former governor of Alaska and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin will be speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday, despite lacking an official role in the Republican Party. The conference is usually a showcase of the party's up-and-coming talent, and some question Palin's place at the event.

The failed vice presidential candidate rode the tea party movement and mobilized a staunch brand of conservativism within the Republican Party during the 2008 election. Despite her loss, Palin remained a prominent voice in the national movement, authoring books and appearing on Fox News as a commentator. Palin spoke at the conference in 2012, when rumors were flying about whether or not she'd enter the presidential race.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on Sarah Palin.]

This Saturday at CPAC she'll have a 16-minute speaking slot, one of the longest. Some wonder what Palin, whose political career seems to have eclipsed, is doing there, when other current prominent Republican governors like Chris Christie of New Jersey and Bob McDonnell of Virginia weren't even invited. Her contract at Fox wasn't renewed, and her next steps are unclear.

But some doubt that she's finished making her mark on the conservative movement. Faith and Freedom Coalition chairman Ralph Reed said Palin does have a place at the conference:

I think it was smart of CPAC to invite her, and I think it was even smarter for her to come, because it's a statement that she wants to play a role in the future even if it is as yet undetermined.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on the Tea Party.]

Others acknowledge that her fame and popularity may no longer correlate with a defined political role in the Republican Party. Matthew Continetti, who wrote of "The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star", said there's no disputing her influence has diminished:

Palin has become more of a celebrity than a political actor … This is a transition that's been going on for several years now.

The former governor recently announced she'll be releasing a new book in November on the overcommercialization of Christmas.

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