Palin Still Uncommitted for GOP Fundraiser

By Ben Evans | June 8, 2009 | 3:31 PM EDT

A fan, unseen, asks former U.S. vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, right, to sign a baseball before the New York Yankees faced the Tampa Bay Rays in a baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, Sunday, June 7, 2009. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Washington (AP) - Will Sarah Palin be one of the Republican stars or a no-show?
 
GOP leaders planning for Monday night's major fundraiser weren't sure whether the Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee - initially invited to give the keynote address - would attend the event even though she was in Washington.
 
It's the latest twist in an unusual public dispute between Palin and congressional leaders who run the GOP's fundraising committees.
 
In March, Palin was replaced as keynote speaker by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., after she wavered over accepting the invitation for the annual Senate-House dinner. She hadn't been expected to attend the event until last week, when her advisers approached organizers saying she would be near Washington and would like to come.
 
A Republican official involved in the discussions, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Palin was invited to sit at a head table but told she would not be given a chance to speak for fear that she might overshadow Gingrich.
 
Palin balked at that arrangement but has not ruled out attending. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, made a personal appeal over the weekend for her to attend.
 
Palin sent a message Monday afternoon using Twitter, the Internet-based social connection service, saying that she was in Washington planning to meet with the state's federal liaison about a natural gas pipeline.
 
A spokeswoman for Palin's political action committee, Meghan Stapleton, did not respond to a request for comment about the dinner. A Republican with ties to Palin said the governor was initially told she would be given a small speaking role but later told she would not.
 
Palin catapulted to fame last year as presidential candidate John McCain's running mate and is widely believed to be eyeing a presidential bid in 2012.
 
In March, Cornyn's committee and its House counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, put out a news release saying Palin would be the keynote speaker at the dinner, which is one of the party's largest fundraisers. Palin's representatives said later that the governor never confirmed that she would speak and wanted to make sure the event did not interfere with state business.
 
Ken Spain, a spokesman for the NRCC, said Palin's invitation still stands.
 
"A great deal of effort has been put into this fundraising event and Speaker Gingrich has gone above and beyond the call of duty," he said. "It is our hope that Governor Palin will attend the dinner and be recognized, but we understand if her busy schedule doesn't permit her to do so."
 
Gingrich also has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2012, and the flap over the fundraiser comes as Palin is denying an allegation that she borrowed heavily from an article he co-wrote in a recent speech.
 
Responding to an accusation from a blogger on the Huffington Post Web site, Palin's attorney said the governor gave Gingrich proper credit when she used some of his material about former President Ronald Reagan.
 
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Associated Press writer Beth Fouhy in New York contributed to this report.
Will Sarah Palin be one of the Republican stars or a no-show?