UPDATE: It’s official.
The New York Times seems to think this will “rally conservatives.” I tend to think otherwise.
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.”
What I don’t understand is: Sarah Palin has spent so much of her time agitating for more conservative candidates. Endorsing Trump makes that all look like a complete ruse. Trump is not conservative, he’s not even a Republican. He’s an opportunist. There are conservatives in this race. What are you doing, Sarah? For so long it was all about limited government, overturning Obamacare, defending life and now…?
I can’t say this was entirely unexpected. I mean, we haven’t heard much from Palin in recent months – though she did remarkably well at last year’s CPAC, speaking on behalf of veterans’ rights organizations – that hasn’t revolved around her daughter’s dramatic life. And I assumed that she would jump on the bandwagon of the candidate she considered to be the most like her. But I really, really wanted to believe, somewhere deep down, that Sarah Palin was above endorsing, of all people, the least conservative man running for President, Donald Trump. But Sarah Palin seems to have become something of an opportunist of late, and there’s no better opportunity for screen time than a meetup with the Donald.
Of course, nothing is set in stone. There’s just some speculation, and Trump has announced a forthcoming “major event” at his 5pm rally in Iowa. But the fervor is growing, as people like Buzzfeed’s editorial staff, carefully scan flight registers looking for any hint of a Palin appearance. Palin will pass through Des Moines tonight before heading to Tulsa for another event, and Townhall’s Guy Benson points out that there have been a number of clues dropped these last few weeks about a Palin announcement.
But why? Donald is certainly nothing like the Tea Party ideal that Palin has been pushing since she unofficially exited politics. He’s certainly not conservative, and that doesn’t seem to matter to anyone supporting him, anyway, so Palin’s addition seems somewhat superfluous – after all, it’s not as though he needs to reassure his base of his “conservative credentials.” Trump does well among moderates and independents, so Palin can only hurt him there. The person most affected seems to be Cruz, whose campaign already registered their dismay at a Palin-Trump alliance (Bristol Palin responded immediately). But I can hardly imagine people who aren’t firmly in Cruz’s camp are on the fence they have doubts about his conservative credentials.
Frankly, I was one of Palin’s earliest supporters and kicked off my campaign communications experience serving on her Truth Squad in 2008. I’ve been shocked at some of the decisions she’s made for her future, but I always consider her a solid politician who can be very powerful when she’s focused. I don’t even know what she needs from Trump, or what he gives her, other than some screen time, that would in any way confer a benefit to her future. I’m completely confused.
Maybe it’s time that I completely give up on this election cycle. Gin martinis, anyone?
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