Will Palin, Trump Crash N.H.'s First 2016 GOP Confab Too?

Will Palin, Trump Crash N.H.'s First 2016 GOP Confab Too?
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As they attempt to sustain whatever is left of their tenuous influence on Republican presidential politics, Sarah Palin and Donald Trump may soon enjoy another opportunity to steal headlines at an early-state gathering of GOP presidential contenders.

On the heels of the first major gathering of likely 2016 hopefuls in Iowa last weekend, New Hampshire Republicans have announced plans to throw their own high-profile shindig to kick off the race for the White House in the first-in-the-nation primary race.

And Palin and Trump may end up receiving invitations to join in the revelry.

The New Hampshire GOP announced on Wednesday that it will host a fundraiser and candidate forum in Nashua on April 17 and 18th.

“Don’t miss the opportunity to join hundreds of activists, operatives, and party leaders at this electrifying two-day conference,” the state party wrote on a web site to promote the event, for which ticket prices will range from $45 to $199. “High profile speakers and notable panelists will present their vision of the future of the Republican Party and stir up a conversation about how to ensure Republican ideals can compete in every corner of our great country.”

With the event almost three months away, organizers face one particularly vexing quandary: What to do about Palin and Trump?

On the one hand, appearances by the two reality TV stars can help drum up some additional interest in such media-saturated gatherings.

But on the other hand, Palin and Trump’s penchant for serving up predictable, over-the-top rhetoric with a side of stale catchphrases often serves to undermine such events and diminish the real contenders, whose own speeches are juxtaposed with the pretenders’, leaving it to voters to sort out the difference.

The two professional non-candidates last demonstrated this tact at a Citizens United-sponsored 2016 event in Iowa last Saturday.

Palin’s most memorable sound bite in her disjointed and at times incoherent speech was when she referred to President Obama as “an overgrown little boy,” while Trump left his mark by declaring that “half” of the immigrants who came to America illegally are criminals.

Asked whether Palin and Trump would be invited to the Nashua confab, New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Jennifer Horn suggested that they would be.

“All candidates who are seriously considering running for president are welcome,” she wrote in an email. “That's the New Hampshire tradition - all comers are welcome.”

Over the weekend, Palin said that she was “seriously” considering a White House bid, while Trump said that he was also “seriously” thinking about it.

The prospect that this two-headed dispenser of self-promotional grievance might soon enter the traditionally more sober realm of New Hampshire presidential politics is already causing heartburn among influential Republicans in the state.

“New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary is serious business, not a carnival sideshow to be treated lightly by hucksters or lightweights who have no intention of running,” said one longtime New Hampshire GOP powerbroker, who requested anonymity to avoid offending state party officials.

New Hampshire Democrats, however, were giddy about the opportunity to use Palin and Trump’s possible appearances in the state as an indictment of the Republican field on the whole.

"New Hampshire swing voters will be aghast at the tone and rhetoric of all the potential GOP candidates, not just Palin and Trump,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley. 

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

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