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Palin Endorses Trump; Her Choice Is A Blow To Ted Cruz


And as Americans head into the actual voting in the 2016 presidential contest, one famous name has reemerged, Sarah Palin. The one-time vice presidential nominee and former Alaska governor had been offstage. Now Palin is hoping to have an impact on the race alongside Donald Trump.


SARAH PALIN: Are you ready to make America great again?


MONTAGNE: She joined him at an event in Ames, Iowa. And NPR's Don Gonyea was there. Good morning.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: What does a Palin endorsement get a candidate Donald Trump? I mean, obviously she's popular with some Republicans - but not so much with the general public. So what's going on here?

GONYEA: There is a lot of debate about what she - what he, he actually gains, if anything. She may help some in Iowa, where another conservative, Ted Cruz, is well organized and trying to beat Trump there. He would have loved her endorsement, we should add. Trump, we do know, once mentioned Palin as a possible member of his cabinet. Here he is on stage with her yesterday.


DONALD TRUMP: This is a woman that from day one, I said if I ever do this, I have to get her support. She feels it. She understands it better than anybody.

MONTAGNE: Well, Trump and Palin certainly share a lot of the same targets, going back to when she first hit the national scene as John McCain's running mate.

GONYEA: Absolutely. And in this regard, it really does make perfect sense why she's joined the Trump bandwagon. So at every event - right? - Trump goes after the media, calling reporters dishonest and treacherous. Palin takes the stage in Ames yesterday, and her very first line was aimed at the reporters in back.


PALIN: Mr. Trump, you're right. Look, back there in the press box. Heads are spinning. Media heads are spinning. This is going to be so much fun.

GONYEA: And Renee, there are also the attacks on Obama that they share. They ridicule him. Trump does it. Palin has done it for years. So yesterday, Palin - at the same time she seemed to be channeling her own past remarks and Trump's recent ones when she talked about that incident when U.S. sailors were briefly detained by Iran.


PALIN: Just last week, we're watching our sailors suffer and be humiliated on a world stage at the hands of Iranian captors in violation of international law because a weak-kneed capitulator in chief has decided that America will lead from behind.

MONTAGNE: Well, there - Sarah Palin, she certainly shares with Donald Trump a penchant for getting personal. She also launched a broadside against the other Republicans running for president.


PALIN: Where the rest of some of these establishment candidates, they just wanted to duck and hide. They didn't want to talk about these issues 'til he brought them up. In fact, they've been wearing this political correctness kind of like a suicide vest. And enough is enough.

MONTAGNE: Well, OK, that was aimed at the Republican establishment. But what about the charge - and this leveled by Ted Cruz, someone whom Palin has cheered in the past and endorsed in the past - that Trump is not a true conservative, that he is shifting views, that he's got New York values? Did she address that?

GONYEA: She went on and on and on about how Donald Trump is a true conservative, a self-made man, a billionaire, she said; and there's nothing wrong with that, that he wants the whole country to succeed. She didn't mention Cruz in those attacks by name. And recall, she has supported Cruz in the past in his - in his run for the Senate. And they've been close. They're both - both, you know, strong Tea Party advocates. Cruz yesterday, in advance of the announcement, said his campaign said that this endorsement would only diminish her and call into question her conservative credentials. But for Trump, her support is really a strong answer to such charges. You could say that Palin, from '08 on, has really helped make room for a candidate like Trump. He takes it further, certainly. But to see them side-by-side onstage, they were a lot like bookends.

MONTAGNE: OK, Don, thanks very much.

GONYEA: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.
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