After rampant speculation, former Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin is officially endorsing Donald Trump.
The Trump campaign broke the news Tuesday afternoon right before a rally in Iowa. The endorsement provides a potential boost with conservatives less than two weeks before the state caucuses.
“I’m proud to endorse Donald J. Trump for president,” she said in a statement provided by his campaign. Palin’s endorsement is considered the highest-profile endorsement for a GOP candidate so far.
“I am greatly honored to receive Sarah’s endorsement,” Mr. Trump said in a statement trumpeting Mrs. Palin’s decision. “She is a friend, and a high-quality person whom I have great respect for. I am proud to have her support.”
In Iowa, where Ms. Palin spent years developing support, the endorsement could be especially helpful.
”Over the years Palin has actually cultivated a number of relationships in Iowa,” said Craig Robinson, the former executive 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.
The Ted Cruz campaign expressed their disappointment that the former Alaska Governor endorsed Cruz’s rival. Just hours before the announcement, Cruz’s campaign spokesman said it would be a “blow” to Palin should she endorse Trump.
“I think it [would] be a blow to Sarah Palin, because Sarah Palin has been a champion for the conservative cause, and if she was going to endorse Donald Trump, sadly, she would be endorsing someone who’s held progressive views all their life on the sanctity of life, on marriage, on partial-birth abortion,” Cruz campaign spokesman Rick Tyler said on CNN’s “New Day.”
Palin’s support – especially among Evangelicals – could boost Trump’s popularity in the very voter base he’s been struggling with.
“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.
About Robert Gehl
Robert Gehl is a college professor in Phoenix, Arizona. He has over 15 years journalism experience, including two Associated Press awards. He lives in Glendale with his wife and two young children.