Sarah Palin Set to Re-emerge at CPAC

By Scott Conroy - February 10, 2012

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If Palin criticizes Romney even more overtly in her CPAC speech, it could heighten the difficulties the former Massachusetts governor already faces in winning over enough grass-roots conservatives to seal the nomination soon.

No matter how much her influence may have waned, Palin’s presence figures to be the talk of the conference on Saturday.

And though there was little pronounced enthusiasm for her impending speech as CPAC opened Thursday, many of the former vice presidential nominee’s most ardent supporters plan to descend on the event this weekend -- a presence that surely will bolster the energy level.

Michelle McCormick -- who temporarily moved to Iowa from her native Texas to help organize for a Palin presidential campaign that never occurred -- will be among those arriving in Washington on Friday.

McCormick said that she would love to see Palin become more active in the presidential race but understood if the former governor wanted to spend time with her family instead and stay outside the ring.

“I know a lot of people out there think her star has completely faded, and realistically it’s probably been knocked down a little bit, but I think everyone’s going to be interested to hear what she has to say,” McCormick said. “To be honest with you, there’s no one out there who’s saying anything that fits the mood of the Republican electorate right now, and even though she’s not running, she might be able to at least drive the conversation like she was able to do with crony capitalism.”

Indeed, the anti-crony capitalism screed that Palin unveiled in a Labor Day weekend speech in Iowa became a frequently repeated mantra among almost all of the GOP presidential candidates.

Though she is sure to unleash some of her famously fiery rhetoric on the CPAC crowd, those eager for her to get behind a particular candidate could come away disappointed.

Palin’s speech is more likely to be an indicator of whether she intends to increase her presence in the race going forward.

“Gov. Palin’s been very adamant: The process should continue, we need more vetting, and it only helps the further we go into the process,” said Steve Bannon, the filmmaker behind the pro-Palin documentary, “The Undefeated.” “If you go back and look at what she said and when she said it and how she said it, she’s been once again very good at foretelling how this thing has developed.” 

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Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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