Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gingrich May Have Inside Track on Palin's Endorsement

This is big news, if true. - Reggie

Almost immediately upon Sarah Palin's announcement that she would not seek the Republican nomination for president, the phone calls from almost all of the GOP candidates began pouring in. They wanted her endorsement.

While Palin has characteristically kept her cards close to her chest, advisers suggest that the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee is likely to endorse before someone emerges as the inevitable nominee -- and that Newt Gingrich appears to be best-positioned to secure her support.

"They speak very favorably of Newt and what they see as his credentials as compared to Perry and Romney," one member of Palin's inner circle said of the former Alaska governor and her husband, Todd, who has long served as her unofficial chief adviser.

Gingrich has been particularly effusive in expressing his admiration for Palin over the last few months, and she has returned the favor by heaping praise on the former House speaker.

"Newt Gingrich again, I think, did the best because he seems to be above a lot of the bickering that goes on," Palin said on Fox News after a Republican debate in Las Vegas last month, adding that Gingrich would “clobber” President Obama in a general election debate.

Palin and her advisers have in recent weeks discussed when her endorsement might have the greatest impact on the race, but the timing remains undetermined.

But Palin would likely have the biggest influence if she were to back a candidate before the Iowa caucuses. Her still considerable clout with the evangelical and Tea Party-leaning wings of the party could have a particularly significant impact in Iowa and in the first-in-the-South primary in South Carolina.

Aides emphasized that while Gingrich currently appears to be the front-runner for Palin’s endorsement, her thinking could change.

“She’s very focused on crony capitalism and the permanent political class,” a second Palin adviser said, pointing to her recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the topics. “That’s her emphasis. She’s looking for candidates to pick that up.”

Gingrich was one of the first Republican contenders to praise Palin’s Labor Day weekend address in Iowa on the culture of corruption in Washington, calling it “a very, very important speech.”

But as a fixture of the Washington establishment who was first elected to Congress in 1978, Gingrich might be seen in some ways the epitome of that “permanent political class,” and questions about the $1.6 to $1.8 million he reportedly received in consulting fees from mortgage giant Freddie Mac is just one issue that could make Palin think twice before lending him her support.

“[Gingrich] is the poster boy for what she rails against,” said a strategist for a rival campaign that has been actively courting Palin for support.

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