Gingrich, not Palin, will headline D.C. GOP dinner

McClatchy NewspapersMarch 31, 2009 

WASHINGTON — It's official: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is out as the headliner at the one of the biggest Republican gatherings of the year, the Senate-House dinner in Washington D.C.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is subbing in.

As you may recall, the chairmen of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, and the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, sent out a press release earlier this month announcing Palin as keynote speaker for the June 8 fundraiser.

But within hours, Palin's staff said, nope, not so fast.

Here's a statement from Brian Walsh, communications director for the NRSC:

"After initially confirming her attendance, Governor Palin's team informed the Committees that her gubernatorial responsibilities in Alaska prevented her from committing until the end of the legislative session. We completely understand and respect Governor Palin's focus on her official state business; however, there is obviously an enormous amount of planning that goes into this annual event. For that reason, we invited and are honored to have former Speaker Newt Gingrich join us as our speaker at the 2009 Senate-House Dinner. As one of our Party's brightest minds and most energetic speakers, we are looking forward to having former Speaker Gingrich provide the keynote address on June 8."

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