Potential Palin Rivals Cede the Spotlight to the Superstar

Both Pawlenty and Romney addressed CPAC earlier this year in Washington, D.C., and Palin was noticeably absent from the program.

Palin arrives in New Orleans having spent significant time on the 2010 campaign trail in the last few weeks and delving further into directing her faithful to particular candidates she believes are worthy of their support.

This weekend will provide Palin with a high-profile opportunity to set forth the key components of her election year message to what is already a clearly enthused Republican base.

GOP Chairman Michael Steele Gets Southern Test

Four years ago at this gathering, Republican leaders struggled with how much to embrace a decreasingly popular President Bush and how much to distinguish themselves from him. It was a theme that permeated through much of the battle for the Republican presidential nomination in 2007 and 2008 as candidates needed to woo a GOP base still supporting Bush without alienating an American electorate at large that had already rejected him.

This year, one key rhetorical challenge for Republicans will be finding the balance between the enthused and angry wall of opposition to all things Obama and the desire to offer some positive and prescriptive alternatives of their own.

In addition to the potential presidential hopefuls, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele will be making his first public speech at SRLC since his chairmanship has been engulfed in controversy and disarray over the committee's spending practices and discipline.

Whether or not he is embraced and bucked up with support or is met with wariness among the activists will be on display for all to see at a time when Republicans are looking at their most advantageous electoral landscape in more than five years.

Other speakers expected to address the SRLC in New Orleans include: Newt Gingrich, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Mike Pence, Rick Perry, Haley Barbour, and Ron Paul.

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