Trump, whose team had been touting a major, surprise announcement, praised Palin as “a friend, and a high-quality person whom I have great respect for” in a statement.
“We’re going to give’ em hell,” he said after her speech.
Palin will also be joining Trump at two events Wednesday, including a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Palin was a virtual newcomer to the national political arena when McCain named her as his running mate. She has since risen to prominence as one of the most outspoken conservatives in the party. She signed on as a Fox News commentator after resigning as Alaska’s governor in 2010, a job she held until last year.
Trump and Palin did not discuss how the endorsement had come about, but Trump’s national political director Michael Glassner previously worked for her. Trump said earlier Tuesday that he doesn’t typically put much stock in endorsements, but said of this one, “I think it could very well result in votes.”
GOP consultant Kevin Madden said the timing will likely help Trump crowd out Cruz’s message as the Iowa caucuses approach.
“I think it helps Trump overwhelm the news cycle with Trump coverage at a critical time,” he said.
Madden also said Palin’s support could help shield Trump from charges that his past positions make him too liberal to be the GOP nominee, “giving Trump some rhetorical cover from a conservative validator in the eyes of many grassroots conservatives.”
But some rally-goers at Trump’s event Tuesday evening said they weren’t sure whether Palin’s support would help Trump win over voters. Several referenced what they saw as her poor performance as a vice presidential candidate.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a detriment, but I don’t think it’s going to be a huge asset,” said Stephen Freese, 56, of Burlington, Iowa, who works in construction.
“I don’t think she’s really credible anymore,” said Bruce Dodge, 66, a retiree who lives in Ankeny, Iowa.