Palin tea party

Sarah Palin to Address Gathering of GOP Faithful

By LIZ SIDOTI AP National Political Writer

The spotlight at the three-day Southern Republican Leadership Conference turns Friday to the 2008 vice presidential nominee.

The former Alaska governor is among the potential GOP contenders to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012 addressing the gathering of a few thousand Republican activists in Louisiana.

At least four possible candidates passed up the event, choosing instead to do their political leg work elsewhere.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who many party insiders consider the front-runner after his failed 2008 candidacy, was in the midst of a book tour. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who was on John McCain’s 2008 vice presidential short list, was addressing the activists by video so he could welcome home returning troops. Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008, was focused on his cable news show. And Sen. John Thune, a rising Republican star, was attending to his South Dakota constituents.

It’s not unusual for politicians eyeing the presidency to gather this early. Potential candidates usually use such forums to gauge their clout years before a presidential race. And the perpetual campaign is normal in modern presidential politics.

The goal isn’t to court voters, as few are paying attention this early.

To read more, visit: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=10327965

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