Sarah Palin Wants You To Vote For Donald Trump
AMES, Iowa — Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice-presidential nominee who became a Tea Party sensation and a favorite of grass-roots conservatives, endorsed Donald J. Trump in Iowa on Tuesday, providing him with a potentially significant boost just 13 days before the state’s caucuses.
“Are you ready for the leader to make America great again?” Mrs. Palin said with Mr. Trump by her side at a rally at Iowa State University. “Are you ready to stump for Trump? I’m here to support the next president of the United States — Donald Trump.”
Her support is the highest-profile backing for a Republican so far. It came the same day that Iowa’s Republican governor, Terry Branstad, said he hoped that Senator Ted Cruz would be defeated in Iowa. The Feb. 1 caucuses are a must-win for the Texas senator, who is running neck-and-neck with Mr. Trump in state polls.
The endorsement came as Mr. Trump was bearing down in the state, holding multiple campaign events and raising expectations about his performance in the nation’s first nominating contest.
As Mrs. Palin announced her backing, Mr. Trump stood wearing a satisfied smile as she scolded mainstream Republicans as sellouts and praised how Mr. Trump had shaken up the party. “He’s been going rogue left and right,” Mrs. Palin said of Mr. Trump, using one of her signature phrases. “That’s why he’s doing so well. He’s been able to tear the veil off this idea of the system.”
It is not clear that Mrs. Palin’s blessing will have a major impact on Mr. Trump’s long-term prospects. But in Iowa, where Mrs. Palin spent years developing a network of supporters, it could be helpful. Mr. Trump has faced questions about whether his campaign’s organizing muscle can draw the voters to match his poll numbers come caucus night.
“Over the years Palin has actually cultivated a number of relationships in Iowa,” said Craig Robinson, the former political director of the Republican Party of Iowa and publisher of the website The Iowa Republican. “There are the Tea Party activists who still think she’s great and a breath of fresh air, but she also did a good job of courting Republican donors in the state,” he added.
Other conservatives said that Mrs. Palin serves as a particularly effective shield against Mr. Cruz, who has assiduously courted Iowa’s evangelical voters.
“Palin’s brand among evangelicals is as gold as the faucets in Trump Tower,” said Ralph Reed, the chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
“Endorsements alone don’t guarantee victory, but Palin’s embrace of Trump may turn the fight over the evangelical vote into a war for the soul of the party,” he said.
Mrs. Palin could amplify the news media-circus aspects of Mr. Trump’s candidacy: She too is a reality television star accustomed to playing to the cameras and often accused of emphasizing flash over substance.
And while Mr. Trump has already shown the ability to garner wall-to-wall cable-news coverage, Mrs. Palin’s involvement in his campaign could help him deprive Mr. Cruz of attention in the homestretch to the caucuses.
As rumors circulated that the endorsement was about to happen, Mr. Cruz offered praise for his former political ally after an aide to the senator mocked the pending endorsement earlier Tuesday. “I love Sarah Palin,” the senator told reporters in New Hampshire. “Sarah Palin is fantastic. Without her friendship and support, I wouldn’t be in the Senate today. So regardless of what Sarah decides to do in 2016, I will always remain a big, big fan of Sarah Palin.”
As word of Mrs. Palin’s endorsement trickled through the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center at Iowa State University, the reaction from supporters of Mr. Trump who braved snow and frigid temperatures to see the candidate was mixed. Backers of Mr. Trump filled a warehouse-style building with a dirt floor that is sometimes used for tractor shows, but most said that it was the candidate that they cared about, not his new endorsement.
Culled from the New York Times