AMES, Iowa (AP) — Donald Trump is brandishing the endorsement of conservative Republican firebrand Sarah Palin in the increasingly intense 2016 GOP presidential sweepstakes, giving the billionaire businessman a boost against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz less than two weeks before Iowa’s kick-off caucuses.
Media heads are spinning,” the former vice presidential candidate said after taking the stage at a Trump rally Tuesday at Iowa State University. “This is going to be so much fun.”
Palin, the former governor of Alaska and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, said that with Trump as president, America would no longer apologize.
“No more pussy-footing around,” Palin said.
The endorsement comes as Trump is locked in a dead heat with Cruz in Iowa. The two have been ramping up their attacks against one another as the Feb. 1 caucuses have neared.
In the statement announcing the endorsement, Trump’s campaign described Palin as a conservative who “helped launch the careers of several key future leaders of the Republican Party and conservative movement.” The statement also quoted Cruz as once saying he “would not be in the United States Senate were it not for Gov. Sarah Palin. … She can pick winners.”
Campaigning in New Hampshire, Cruz said, “Regardless of what Sarah intends to do in 2016, I will remain a big, big fan of Sarah Palin.”
Palin endorsed Cruz in his 2012 Senate race and said as recently as last month that he and Trump were both in her top tier of candidates, making the endorsement a symbolic blow to Cruz.
Palin’s remarks in Ames, Iowa, were signature Palin, combining the folksy charm and everywoman appeal that initially made her a GOP superstar with defiant taunting of a “busted” GOP establishment that she slammed for counting both Trump and herself out.
Palin offered her full-throated support for Trump and slammed President Barack Obama as the “capitulator in chief.” Trump, she said, would be a commander in chief who would “let our warriors do their job and go kick ISIS’ ass!”
She also took aim at the Republican establishment for “attacking their own front-runner” and offered a challenge to those who have suggested that Trump, whose positions on issues like gun control and abortion rights have shifted over the years, isn’t conservative enough.
“Oh my goodness gracious. What the heck would the establishment know about conservativism?” she said. “Who are they to tell us that we’re not conservative enough? … Give me a break.”
Trump, whose team had been touting a major, surprise announcement, praised Palin as “a friend, and a high-quality person whom I have great respect for” in a statement.
“We’re going to give’ em hell,” he said after her speech.
Palin will also be joining Trump at two events Wednesday, including a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Palin was a virtual newcomer to the national political…