(CBS News) Sarah Palin says she's still waiting on an invitation from Mitt Romney to speak at the Republican National Convention next month. If it never comes, it would mark only the third time the prior cycle's GOP vice presidential nominee was not offered podium time at the party's most high-profile political event.
"What can I say?" Palin told Newsweek in an email. She went on to suggest the reason she had yet to be invited was her willingness to criticize her own party as well as the opposition. "I'm sure I'm not the only one accepting consequences for calling out both sides of the aisle for spending too much money, putting us on the road to bankruptcy, and engaging in crony capitalism," she said.
"In accepting those consequences," Palin continued, "one must remember this isn't Sadie Hawkins and you don't invite yourself and a date to the Big Dance."
Since 1976 - the last year nominees for both parties were not determined prior to the conventions - only two of the previous cycle's GOP vice presidential nominees did not receive speaking slots: Jack Kemp in 2000 and Bob Dole in 1980. (Dole attended the 1980 convention as a candidate still actively seeking the nomination, though Ronald Reagan had already effectively wrapped it up.)
Romney's apparent hesitation could be tied to the perception that Palin was a poor and polarizing choice four years ago. It also can't help that Palin, who came close to backing Newt Gingrich in the GOP primary, has yet to offer Romney a full-throated endorsement. But remarks from the fiery tea party maven, whose convention speech four years ago set off a wave of much-needed enthusiasm in the party, could be a welcome moment for conservatives still wary of the presumptive nominee's moderate record as Massachusetts governor.
"Romney's just not a fighter," Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin told Newsweek. "That's why it would be good for him to have someone like Palin speaking at the convention. He needs to do something to rile up his base, to make them enthusiastic. And I don't mean just the Tea Party. I mean die-hard Republicans."
Still, any speculation about who is or isn't invited to the August 27th convention in Tampa could be jumping the gun. A top adviser for Rick Santorum - the last serious contender standing against Romney in the Republican primary - told CBS News that Santorum has been assured a speaking slot but has not yet received the formal invitation. Andrea Saul, a spokesperson for the Romney campaign, said that as far as she knows, "no invitations have gone out yet."
Palin's political action committee spent $4,500 earlier this year to reserve space for an event within walking distance of the convention's venue, as Politico reported. She could see a scenario play out similar to 2008, when then-vice president Dick Cheney - also a polarizing figure at the time - received a surprise invitation just weeks before the convention.