Why Did Sarah Palin Endorse Trump?
Palin had already worn thin with “Jerry Mander.” He’s had it with her now.
By D.C. McAllister at Conservative Review
Last night, Sarah Palin, Donald Trump’s “very special guest,” endorsed him at Iowa State University. Of course, a lot of people are shocked that she would endorse him over Ted Cruz. She’s the Tea Party darling after all, standing for conservative values from supporting gun rights to defunding Obamacare.
Cruz communications director Rick Tyler said earlier Tuesday that the campaign would be very disappointed if Palin supported Trump because she:
…has been a champion of 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, he supported [the] TARP bailout — it goes on and on and on.
Palin responded with a tweet linking to an article written by her daughter in which Bristol Palin blasts the Cruz campaign for “slamming” her mom.
Cruz responded with a tweet of his own—this one much more conciliatory:
But should Cruz and others be surprised that Palin would jump on the Trump train? Not if you’ve paid attention to what she’s been saying ever since Trump got into the race.
In August, the former Alaskan governor interviewed Trump on One America News Network, showing her enthusiasm and support for the firebrand candidate:
I’ve said since the day he made the sacrifice to hit the campaign trail, voters crave the anti-status-quo politicians,” she said. “They want results. They need a fighter. They need someone to fire all those political correct police.
In another interview in August, this one on Fox News, Palin shows her support of Trump, saying his “common sense plans” are a “real shot in the arm to Constitutionalists and conservatives who want America to be put first by our leaders.”
Lastly, and more significantly in light of her endorsement of Trump last night, is an interview on CBN last month where she says of Trump: “I meet with him quite a bit. I’m so thankful that he’s running … He calls it like he sees it, and to me that’s refreshing. He’s a fighter, he’s a competitor. We need a fighter for America, someone who will put our nation first.”
Palin’s enthusiasm for Trump mirrors many of his supporters from the Tea Party ranks. That zeal would be understandable if Trump were the only anti-establishment candidate in the race. But he’s not. There’s Cruz. He’s the true constitutional conservative, and it would make sense that Palin, who has always stood for conservative values, would support him. That’s not the case. Palin’s endorsement for Trump over Cruz reveals her populist-over-principles roots. Trump represents authoritarian, nationalistic, Jacksonian populism that is not rooted in constitutional principles. It’s about the fight, taking power away from the establishment and defeating the real enemy—the politically correct Left that is hell-bent on fundamentally changing America—at all costs. Palin is choosing power over principles. Why? It might be a simple as she has a personal relationship with Trump. She said in her December interview that she meets with him “quite a bit.” There isn’t any indication that she meets with Cruz very often if at all. If anything, Palin is loyal to with whom she builds personal connections.
Her support of Trump might also be good old-fashioned horse trading. The king of “making the deal” might have offered something to the former Alaskan governor to garner her support—a vice presidential spot (don’t rule it out!) or a cabinet position? We don’t know, but it’s not implausible in the self-interested world of politics.
Ultimately, will Palin’s endorsement mean anything? Obviously, Cruz has gotten under Trump’s skin by edging closer in the polls. As Trump’s liberal record comes out and becomes public knowledge, conservative supporters are taking a second look at him. It makes sense that Trump would fight back with a ringing endorsement from a conservative. But will Palin’s populist-motivated endorsement work when strong conservative voices like Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh are doing more to expose Trump’s record than to throw their conservative creds behind him? It’s unlikely. Conservatives questioning their support of Trump in light of his record will be more likely to listen to conservative radio than Palin, especially since they have a choice with Cruz.
She will also do little to help Trump if Cruz’s push to prove that Trump really isn’t an anti-establishment populist is effective. A case can be made that populists don’t care if Trump is a conservative. Palin is proof of that. But what if he’s not even a populist? His recent language about making deals with the other side and everyone getting along in D.C. certainly reeks of establishment squishiness and not the unflinching determination to fight for America many populists are craving.
When supporters of Trump begin to realize that, not only is he not a conservative, but he’s not even a populist, they will jump ship. Conservatives will flock to Cruz. The populists will scatter, licking their wounds, either holding on to the Trump ideal to the bitter end or finally realizing Cruz is the fighter they wanted all along. Either way, their insurgency will be broken, and the conservative resurgency will truly begin.
D.C. McAllister is a journalist based in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is a guest contributor to Conservative Review and a senior Contributor to The Federalist.
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