AMES, Iowa — Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump received the endorsement Tuesday of conservative firebrand Sarah Palin, giving the billionaire businessman a potential boost 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 at Iowa State University. “This is going to be so much fun.”
“No more pussy-footing around,” Palin said.
The endorsement comes as Trump is locked in a dead heat with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in Iowa. The two have been ramping up their attacks against one another as the election has 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.”