Gingrich May Have Inside Track on Palin's Endorsement

By Scott Conroy - November 23, 2011

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Though Gingrich is far from an ideal candidate to Palin and her advisers, his rivals may carry even more baggage in her eyes.

National front-runner Mitt Romney has praised Palin many times, and senior aides have effectively enforced an internal rule within the campaign: Speak no ill of Sarah Palin.

Behind the scenes, according to Palin aides, Romney has been among those who have most vigorously sought Palin’s endorsement, which could go a long way toward boosting his support with a largely skeptical conservative base.

But Romney is anathema to many of Palin’s hard-core supporters, and if she were to back him before the nominee is determined, it would likely be seen by many of her devotees as a betrayal of her principles.

Though Palin was a vocal supporter of Rick Perry during his 2010 gubernatorial primary fight against Kay Bailey Hutchison, the former Alaska governor is said to have significant reservations about his record in Texas of rewarding political donors with plum positions, among other concerns.

Though Michele Bachmann declared in August that she and Palin were “very good friends,” their private relationship has, in fact, been non-existent for almost two years, and Bachmann does not appear to be in the running for Palin’s backing.

As an outsider who shares Palin’s general worldview and many elements of her political style, Herman Cain might at one time have been a leading candidate for the Palin nod.

But despite her long record of putting her neck on the line for unlikely underdogs, Cain’s frequent stumbles on basic policy questions and his bungled reaction to allegations of sexual harassment have made it unlikely she would back him at this point.

Nonetheless, the Cain campaign -- like just about all of its rivals -- sees Palin’s endorsement as one of the most alluring opportunities to peak at the right time.

“Iowans spend a lot of time examining these candidates, and no Iowan is going to invest all of this time looking at the candidates and the issues and then let someone else make that decision for them,” said Cain’s Iowa consultant Steve Grubbs. “Having said that, there are certain endorsements that would certainly provide momentum.” 

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Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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