Newt Gingrich vs. Sarah Palin in an Early 2012 Skirmish

What's the real reason the Alaska governor got snubbed by D.C. Republicans?

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By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

You might not have even known she was back on, but Sarah Palin is now off again with tonight's big Republican fundraising dinner, according to Politico 's Jonathan Martin. Politico is playing this with a big "Palin versus GOP" headline on its site, but I wonder if it isn't really Palin vs. Gingrich—a first skirmish of two 2012 contenders.

For those who haven't been keeping score at home, Palin was initially invited many weeks ago to address the House and Senate Republicans' annual fundraising dinner here in D.C. There was an apparent miscommunication between the two camps over whether she had accepted, resulting in fed-up beltway Republicans asking former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to keynote the confab. Gingrich of course is suddenly ubiquitous, one of those trying to fill the Republican leadership void, presumably with an eye toward 2012.

Here's the latest, from Politico:

After being invited — for a second time — to speak to the annual joint fundraiser for the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Palin was told abruptly Saturday night that she would not be allowed to address the thousands of Republicans there after all.

...

The reason given for the snub, said a Palin aide, was that NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions was concerned about not wanting to upstage former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the fundraising gala's keynote speaker.

According to the article, the plan was to have Palin's speech be a surprise for dinner attendees. There is of course something missing here. I cannot imagine that D.C. GOP leadership decided to snub one of the party's rising stars simply either out of beltway malice or sudden, spontaneous sensitivity to Newt Gingrich's feelings. Seriously, does it make sense that they would decide to invite Palin and then someone said: We'd better walk this back, Newt might be irked. It seems more likely that they decided to invite Palin and then someone said: We'd better walk this back, Newt is pissed.

Would they snub Palin unprompted, out of the kindness of their hearts? Unlikely. Would they do it because Gingrich or his people expressed irritation that, after agreeing last-minute to appear at the dinner, he was in danger of being upstaged by a potential 2012 rival? That makes a great deal more sense.

This particular potential primary match-up is fun to contemplate: Newt may be a figure from the past, but he remains one of the most intellectually interesting members of the GOP. And while Palin has the ineffable political "it" quality, and could well be the face of the party's future, she has given no evidence of being a deep thinker.

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