Yesterday was kinda sad, like running into an old flame and discovering the fire had gone out.
Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice-presidential nominee who became a Tea Party sensation and a favorite of grass-roots conservatives, endorsed Donald J. Trump in Iowa on Tuesday, providing him with a potentially significant boost just 13 days before the state’s caucuses.
“Are you ready for the leader to make America great again?” Mrs. Palin said with Mr. Trump by her side at a rally at Iowa State University. “Are you ready to stump for Trump? I’m here to support the next president of the United States — Donald Trump.”
Her support is the highest-profile backing for a Republican so far. It came the same day that Iowa’s Republican governor, Terry Branstad, said he hoped that Senator Ted Cruz would be defeated in Iowa. The Feb. 1 caucuses are a must-win for the Texas senator, who is running neck-and-neck with Mr. Trump in state polls.
The endorsement came as Mr. Trump was bearing down in the state, holding multiple campaign events and raising expectations about his performance in the nation’s first nominating contest.
As Mrs. Palin announced her backing, Mr. Trump stood wearing a satisfied smile as she scolded mainstream Republicans as sellouts and praised how Mr. Trump had shaken up the party. “He’s been going rogue left and right,” Mrs. Palin said of Mr. Trump, using one of her signature phrases. “That’s why he’s doing so well. He’s been able to tear the veil off this idea of the system.”
It is not clear that Mrs. Palin’s blessing will have a major impact on Mr. Trump’s long-term prospects. But in Iowa, where Mrs. Palin spent years developing a network of supporters, it could be helpful. Mr. Trump has faced questions about whether his campaign’s organizing muscle can draw the voters to match his poll numbers come caucus night.
Sarah Palin exploded on the national political stage 7 1/2 years ago. She went from a little-known first-term governor of an isolated, large-in-area, small-in-population state to a media star almost overnight.
Then the knives came out. The media treated her like a pinata, and we soon discovered that she was despised by the GOPe as much or more than by the Democrats in and out of the media. She was an antihero, the antithesis of the coastal elites who control both parties.
Her fans were legion but they were never as well organized or as powerful as her enemies. After the election she didn’t fade away but remained in the spotlight, mostly due to the incessant and unrelenting attacks on her politically and personally. They went after her family too.
Then the Tea Party happened, and she quickly became their unofficial leader mainly because she was the most well-known politician who supported them. She was instrumental in helping Tea Party candidates win elections across the country in 2010, often defeating GOPe incumbents.
She resigned her position as Alaska governor, a move that has been widely criticized. She wrote books, gave speeches, had a gig working for Fox News, and even did a reality television show. She generated lots of interest as a potential candidate for the 2012 GOP nomination.
Will Sarah run? Run, Sarah, run!
In the end she didn’t run, leaving her supporters disappointed and her enemies gleeful.
Since then her star has faded. Her life and family are still tabloid fodder but her fans began to drift away.
Yesterday she appeared on stage to endorse Donald Trump. The Palin Derangement Syndrome was evident everywhere you looked. Her supporters not so much.
I don’t think her endorsement will really make much difference. It won’t help Trump or hurt him. Maybe it will give him that little boost in Iowa that puts him on top on election say two weeks from now, but Sarah just isn’t relevant any more.
One thing that was clear to me is that Trump’s supporters are not just a reincarnation of the Tea Party. This is his movement.
As for Sarah, some of us will always wonder what might have been.