This news comes as a surprise to me. Palin had been publicly invited to speak in prime time at the event, and her activities since the election suggest that she is committed to maintaining and developing her national image. She has also been a darling of a good portion of the conservative base, and would no doubt be well received at CPAC.
Her spokesman declined to say why she wouldn’t attend. However, according to the CNN article he did acknowledge that it would be difficult for for the governor to attend during the middle of Alaska’s state legislative session.
At first glance, this is probably disappointing to a number of the conservative activists attending CPAC – many of whom have probably already bought their tickets. And no doubt the American Conservative Union, which sponsors CPAC, is disappointed not to have her as one of the headliners.
But this might be a smart move on Palin’s part. If she has important official business to attend to in Alaska, then that’s where she should be. It’s also savvy from a political standpoint, because there is national significance to her state approval ratings: if she is not successful there, her reputation will suffer nationally. Furthermore, she’s up for re-election in two years (and if I had to make a gentleman’s wager on it right now, I’m guessing she does).
Palin has plenty of time to court the national conservative base and make headline speeches at gala affairs. There are three more CPACs before the next presidential election. I’m guessing she won’t skip them all.