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Sarah Palin endorses Donald Trump

Sarah Palin at an event in Des Moines last year. Credit Jabin Botsford/The New York Times

Sarah Palin at an event in Des Moines last year. Credit Jabin Botsford/The New York Times

Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice-presidential nominee who became a Tea Party sensation and a favorite of grass-roots conservatives, will endorse Donald J. Trump in Iowa on Tuesday, officials with his campaign confirmed. The endorsement provides Mr. Trump with a potentially significant boost just 13 days before the state’s caucuses.

“I’m proud to endorse Donald J. Trump for president,” Ms. Palin said in a statement provided by his campaign.

Her support is the highest-profile backing for a Republican contender 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.

Other conservatives said that Ms. Palin serves as a particularly effective shield against Senator Ted Cruz, who is battling Mr. Trump for the lead in Iowa polls by courting the state’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, who is to appear alongside Mr. Trump at a rally on the Iowa State University campus in Ames late Tuesday afternoon, could amplify the news media-circus aspects of Mr. Trump’s candidacy: Like him, she is a reality-TV star accustomed to playing to the cameras and often accused of emphasizing flash over substance.

As Mr. Trump fends off questions about his “New York values” from Mr. Cruz, Mrs. Palin could help vouch for Mr. Trump’s credentials with skeptical conservatives.

What’s more, while Mr. Trump has already shown the ability to garner wall-to-wall cable-news coverage, Mrs. Palin’s active involvement in his campaign could help him deprive Mr. Cruz of vital attention in the homestretch to the Feb. 1 caucuses.

The two are not strangers. Mrs. Palin, Mr. Trump and his wife, Melania, shared a pizza in New York in June 2011, when Mrs. Palin was considering a presidential run of her own and was making a bus tour around the country. (Mr. Trump was mocked at the time for using a knife and fork on his slice.)

They also share a trusted operative: Mr. Trump’s national political director, Michael Glassner, was chief of staff to Mrs. Palin’s political action committee.

And like Mr. Trump, Mrs. Palin has maverick tendencies. The mantra of her final weeks of the 2008 campaign was “going rogue,” as she defied instructions from aides to Senator John McCain of Arizona, the party’s presidential nominee.

Little-known before Mr. McCain picked her as his running mate, Mrs. Palin ultimately eclipsed Mr. McCain in popularity. She has endured as a coveted endorser with an impressive fund-raising list.

Mrs. Palin endorsed several of Mr. Trump’s Republican rivals in their statewide races, including Mr. Cruz in Texas and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Mr. Cruz, after his 2012 primary victory over the incumbent lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst, said he would not have made it to the Senate without Mrs. Palin’s backing.

Source: New York Times

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