Trump promoted the event on Facebook over the holiday weekend. “I will have a major announcement and a very special guest in attendance,” the mogul promised. “You will not want to miss this rally!”
Shortly before the campaign event was set to begin, the Trump campaign circulated a statement confirming rumors that he would use the event to announce the “coveted and influential” endorsement of the former Alaska governor.
“I am greatly honored to receive Sarah’s endorsement. She is a friend, and a high quality person whom I have great respect for,” Trump said in the statement. “I am proud to have her support.”
Per the campaign, Palin’s own remarks were pithy and to-the-point. “I am proud to endorse Donald J. Trump for President of the United States of America,” she said.
Palin might see in Trump similarities to her own insurgent candidacy in 2008 — both were quick to accumulate a strong following among voters disenchanted with the Republican establishment.
The conservative blog Free Republic appeared the first to notice the flight plan of a certain private jet leaving Anchorage en route to Des Moines Monday evening, touching off a flurry of speculation about the impending endorsement.
The endorsement is a tough blow for Trump’s chief rival in Iowa, Ted Cruz, whose Senate candidacy Senate Palin once championed. Cruz’s spokesman tried to downplay the significance of Palin’s support on CNN’s New Day Tuesday morning.
“I think it’d be a blow to Sarah Palin, because Sarah Palin has been a champion for 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,” Rick Tyler said.
Bristol Palin all but confirmed the rumors in a blog post responding to Tyler’s comments. The eldest Palin daughter lashed out at one-time Palin ally. “Cruz’s flip-flop, turning against my mom who’s done nothing but support and help him when others sure didn’t, shows he’s a typical politician. How rude to that he’s setting up a false narrative about her!”
She went on to address Cruz directly, writing, “You’ve also said, ‘She can pick winners!’ I hope you’re right, and that she endorses Donald Trump today for President.”
Palin is the most high-profile Republican to endorse Trump so far. Other noteworthy endorsements include Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Ann Coulter, Ted Nugent, Phyllis Schlafly, Gary Busey, Hulk Hogan, Tila Tequila and Dennis Rodman.