Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will headline an Iowa Republican Party fundraiser Friday evening and the chairman of the Iowa Tea Party movement will be there. Ryan Rhodes says he bought a ticket to the event as soon as he heard about it.
“She’s essentially — as some might say — the ‘rock star’ of the Republican Party right now and so I kind of wanted to hear what she had to say, see if it’s going to be the same,” Rhodes says, “and hopefully have the potential to talk to her.”
Palin is scheduled to give the keynote address at the Friday evening banquet, but Rhodes paid $1000 for a table for 10 in order to attend the private reception with Palin beforehand. If he has a chance, Rhodes plans to tell Palin to “remember her roots.”
“She shouldn’t just get along to go along with the establishment, because the people who really are major, major supporters of her — that’s just not who they are,” Rhodes says.
Palin made a trip to Iowa last December, for a book-signing event in Sioux City. Her last splash on the Iowa political scene was in early June when she posted messages on Twitter and Facebook, endorsing Republican Terry Branstad’s bid for a fifth term as governor. That didn’t sit well with some Tea Party activists or with some of the Republicans who were supporting Branstad’s opponent, Bob Vander Plaats.
Bryan English, director of public relations for the Iowa Family Policy Center, supported Vander Plaats and he has “no intention” of buying a ticket to see Palin.
“Governor Palin certainly caused herself some additional hurdles in the state of Iowa among a big chunk of the conservative activists simply by engaging in the gubernatorial primary the way that she did,” English says.
The Iowa Family Policy Center tried to raise $100,000 last fall to entice Palin to speak at a counter-event on the same November night Vice President Joe Biden was speaking in downtown Des Moines, but those plans fell through. English says he knows of no one affiliated with his group who’s going to see Palin Friday night.
“Her brand may be tainted at this point and it will be interesting to see how she addresses that — if she addresses it at all — and if any effort to address it is successful or not,” English says.
State Representative Dwayne Alons, a Republican from Hull, is also a Vander Plaats supporter who was puzzled by Palin’s endorsement of Branstad. “I didn’t take offense, but I was kind of questioning that she did that,” Alons says.
Alons considers Vander Plaats more “in line” with Palin on the issues, but he believes Palin may have chosen Branstad because Branstad, like Palin, is a former governor.
The Tea Party’s state chairman worked earlier this year for a Republican congressional candidate who had Tea Party backing and finished third in a seven-way race. Rhodes, who says he doesn’t want to comment on the governor’s race, doesn’t expect Friday evening’s audience for Palin to be packed with Tea Party activists.
“I mean, they’re expensive tickets for your average Tea Party person and so I don’t necessarily think that’s what your crowd’s like. I’d love to see a lot of ’em there, but I think it’s just not the type of event that quite frankly a lot of people who are upset even right now can afford,” Rhodes says. “For the ones that can afford it, I’m sure it’ll be a great event.”
Individual tickets are $100. Danielle Plougmann, a spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Iowa, says party officials expect tomorrow night to be “the largest and best-attended Reagan Dinner in recent memory.”
C-SPAN intends to broadcast the event live, starting at seven o’clock Friday evening. That’s how Leisa Stapp of Moville is going to see Palin.
“I will have to TiVo it, but that’s fine,” Stapp says, with a laugh.
Stapp saw Palin in person this past December. Stapp and her teenage son were among a small group who camped overnight in the parking lot of a Barnes and Noble Store in Sioux City so they could be first in line for Palin’s autograph the next day. Tomorrow’s Palin event will be held at Hy-Vee Hall in downtown Des Moines — a more than three-hour drive from Stapp’s home in northwest Iowa.