Tea Party activists and loyalists have recently criticized the National Tea Party Convention set to take place in Nashville, TN next month, balking at the expensive ticket prices and the fact that the “scammy” event is for-profit. “That’s not what the tea party is about,” said one local Tea Party leader. After reports spread about the controversy, the convention began to unravel, as featured speakers Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) decided to drop out.
Sarah Palin is also billed for a keynote speaking slot at the event. She will reportedly receive $115,000 for the appearance, and last night on Fox News, Palin said she has no intention of abandoning the convention:
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you intend to speak? And there’s the controversy about you getting paid. What’s your thought?
PALIN: Oh, you betcha I’m going to be there. I’m going to speak there because there are people traveling from many miles away to hear what that tea party movement is all about and what that message is that should be received by our politicians in Washington. I’m honored to get to be there.
Palin said she won’t “personally gain from being there” and will donate the speaking fee to “the cause” (although she did not say if her PAC is part of that “cause”). Later in the segment, Palin argued that the GOP and the Tea Party movement “need to merge” in order to prevent “divisions” and “divisiveness.” Watch it:
Perhaps Palin thinks the Tea Party and the GOP “need to merge” because far right wingers and teabaggers alike have attacked the former Alaska governor for endorsing Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) re-election campaign.
But it’s unclear whether such a merger can ever take place. Just yesterday, RNC chair Michael Steele said he does not want to “co-opt” the movement. And one controversial Tea Party leader recently complained that the RNC is ignoring him. “I’ve called them, lots of times. I called them this morning. I called them yesterday. It’s like they ignore you as they try to figure out a strategy on how to defeat you,” he said.