Palin’s PAC reserves space in Tampa during Republican convention

Interesting. I wonder how much space you can get in Tampa for $4,500.

The political action committee for the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate plunked down $4,500 to reserve space at Channelside Bay Plaza for the big political event.

The expense was listed in required filings submitted Wednesday to the Federal Election Commission.

It’s unclear what, if any, official role Palin will have at the Aug. 27-30 convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Three possibilities, listed here in order of decreasing probability and increasing intrigue. One: Convention-related party. No doubt other PACs will be in town to host them, so why not? It’s good for the brand. Two: Book signing. Does she have a new one coming out? Maybe there’s something in the works and the public doesn’t know it yet. She’s got four and a half months to reveal it and the convention would be a perfect place to sign. Three: Tea-party press conference warning Romney that he’d better govern as a conservative if elected or else the base will have a fee-vah and the only prescription will be primarying him into oblivion. I sure hope someone’s planning to do something like that, if not her. FreedomWorks, maybe? Tea Party Patriots? There’ll be a million journalists in town salivating for a storyline about tensions among Republicans. Might as well use the opportunity to send a message to Mitt.

Speaking of which, McClatchy asks a question you’ll be hearing until election day: Does Romney’s primary victory spell the end of the tea party?

Romney’s victory, sealed with Santorum’s decision Tuesday to suspend his challenge, was a triumph of political pragmatism over ideology, a cool calculation by primary voters and the party establishment that the most important thing was picking someone who could win, not necessarily someone who should win.

In so doing, they set aside some of the passions that roiled the party just two years ago. Fed by a backlash against President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress, those passions helped seize the House of Representatives. But they also led the party to purge moderates in states such as Colorado, Delaware and Nevada who could have won Democratic seats in the Senate…

Nationally, the numbers are worse. A recent Fox News Poll found 30 percent of registered voters had a favorable opinion of the movement, down from 35 percent in 2010. At the same time, 51 percent had an unfavorable opinion, up sharply from 22 percent in 2010.

Ultimately, the tea party may have seen its peak in 2010, particularly in the glare of the media.

Keith Koffler argues that Romney will have no choice but to govern as a tea partier most of the time for fear of being primaried if he doesn’t, but I’ll believe that when I see it. It’s not a question of tea partiers being too “weak” to challenge him, it’s a question of the Democratic and Republican bases being so polarized now that each will grudgingly vote strategically for an incumbent president from their own party rather than risk fatally weakening him/her with a primary. Liberals won their big victories in 2006 and 2008 by rallying around the anti-war movement, but once O was safely elected and decided to ramp up in Afghanistan, increase the drone strikes in Pakistan, launch a western intervention in Libya (without congressional approval), and target American-citizen jihadis like Awlaki for assassination without due process, those galvanizing anti-war concerns went straight down the toilet because any hypothetical Republican president would be so much worse. Tea partiers won’t be that bad — if Romney tries to hike taxes, say, you’ll hear lots of third party talk on the right — but the obvious lesson Mitt’s going to take away from this primary is that an awful lot of Republicans will hold their nose and back him in the name of electability. And if they’re willing to do that now, how much more likely will they be to do it once the right has retaken the White House and is desperately trying to hold on against a challenge from Hillary or Andrew Cuomo or whoever? Remember, of the three tea-party rock stars in the Senate this year, one of them endorsed Mitt (Mike Lee), one of them remained neutral (DeMint), and one was committed to a candidate who never had a chance (Paul). There was no major groundswell of Republican opposition to candidate Romney inside the Beltway, even among the more anti-establishment members. Is it more or less likely that we’d see that groundswell happen when he’s President Romney? Hopefully he’ll win and we’ll get a chance to find out.

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