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GOP says Palin will star at dinner; she says she hasn't yet agreed

Gov. Sarah Palin's spokesman said Monday that congressional Republicans were mistaken in announcing the governor would headline one of the biggest Republican gatherings of the year, the Senate-House dinner in Washington, D.C. The governor's office said Palin has not even confirmed she would be attending the event. "I communicated with the governor directly and she did not know anything about it," said Bill McAllister, the governor's spokesman.

The chairmen of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, and the National Republican Congressional Committee, Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, sent out a press release Monday announcing Palin as keynote speaker for the June 8 event.

It's the annual fundraiser for the Republican Party's congressional re-election efforts.

The NRSC and NRCC announcement of Palin's leading role in the event made national news. The Associated Press distributed the story and it appeared on the Web sites of the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News and USA Today, among many others.

McAllister said Palin asked him why The Associated Press was reporting that she was going to do this. "I pointed out the (National Republican Senatorial Committee) press release and she was like, no," he said.

NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh said Monday night that the staff of the governor's national political action committee, SarahPAC, had confirmed Palin would indeed speak at the Senate-House dinner.

"The committees have confirmed this with the governor's political staff at SarahPAC, not her official staff in Juneau, so it's understandable why there may be a miscommunication here," Walsh said.

SarahPAC spokeswoman Meg Stapleton could not be reached for comment Monday night.

McAllister said Palin is aware of the event but has not confirmed. He said he had no idea why it was announced.

"I don't know, I'm kind of stunned. ... She's been invited, but that's as far as it's gone from our end, is my understanding," McAllister said.

The announcement that Palin would be keynote speaker at the fundraiser remained prominently posted on the NRSC Web site.

Cornyn said in the announcement that the Alaska governor has emerged as one of the most popular and recognizable faces in the Republican Party.

"Last fall, she electrified and energized crowds across the country, and we expect she will generate a similar amount of enthusiasm at this spring's dinner," he said.

Sessions said Palin is one of the brightest rising stars of the Republican Party.


By SEAN COCKERHAM and ERIKA BOLSTAD
Anchorage Daily News