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Palin's message a mystery as she prepares to address CPAC

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin arrives Saturday in Washington at an uncertain point in her political career to deliver just her second speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin greets attendees after addressing last year's CPAC.

A rock star among conservatives following her nomination as the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2008, Palin has seen her star fade ever since. Her contract as a contributor for Fox News was not renewed, and her bid for president in 2012 never materialized despite a significant amount of buzz that Palin herself helped stoke.


These days, many of Palin’s Facebook posts are about her family’s latest exploits; her scorching political missives seem fewer and farther between. Her political action committee, Sarah PAC, collected about $5 million during the 2012 election cycle, most of which went to operating expenses. Palin’s PAC sent just $306,000 to Republican candidates during the cycle, including the maximum of $5,000 to Romney for President – on Oct. 17, 2012, just 20 days before the election.

CPAC begins but will this conference yield any re-branding of the party, or any united message from the GOP?  The speaker list includes Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio. Political strategist John Braebender and Angela Rye discuss.

To that end, what Palin might tell the conservative activists at CPAC is as a mystery to those who arguably know her best.

“I really like her as a person and I think she has a lot to offer,” said Fred Malek, an occasional adviser to the former Alaska governor, “but I don’t have any particular insights or expectations for what she’ll say.”

Related: Romney re-emerges at CPAC to pass the GOP torch

Palin doesn't have a particularly extensive track record at CPAC. She skipped the yearly confab in 2009, 2010 and 2011, even though organizers had hoped that she would attend. (The governor would typically cite scheduling issues for being unable to make it.)

Her first CPAC speech, in 2012, was full of red meat for the Tea Party followers she cultivated, particularly during the health care reform battle and election of 2010. She spent much of her 37-minute speech extolling the conservative movement and attacking President Barack Obama, earning cheers of “Sar-ah! Sar-ah!” at points during the speech.

But now that Obama’s won a second four-year term, it’s unclear whether Palin might dig in and further oppose the president, or re-position herself for future relevance within the Republican Party.

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