Former Alaska. Gov. Sarah Palin endorsed conservative Iowa state Senator Joni Ernst on Wednesday in her bid for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in Iowa in a crowded field of candidates.
Former South Carolina Senator and Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint said Palin’s endorsement has the most impact in GOP primaries, and the Ernst campaign hopes Palin’s endorsement helps her close the gap between her and Mark Jacobs, the wealthy businessman with a liberal record on issues like cap and trade, who is leading the polls.
“If Nebraska’s Deb Fischer can see through the bull in Washington, then Iowa’s Joni Ernst can help her cut through the pork,” Palin wrote in a Facebook post. “Growing up on a hog farm in Southwest Iowa, Joni has taken her ‘pork cutting’ skills to the Iowa State Senate where she has been a champion for life, small government, and lower taxes – voting for the largest tax cut in Iowa history.”
Ernst said that she was “proud to stand with the Mama Grizzly against big spenders in Washington like Bruce Braley and Nancy Pelosi.”
Palin, who has the highest favorability rating among 2016 GOP presidential primary voters and won the hearts of Iowans in Indianola and at the Iowa State Fair in 2011, said that Ernst has also “pledged to defund Obamacare, limit the size of government, and protect life” if she goes to Washington. Palin also mentioned that Ernst is a “veteran of the Iraq war and continues her service as a Lt. Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard” and, “as a concealed weapon license holder, she will fight to defend our Second Amendment rights – the NRA has given her an ‘A’ rating.”
“She’s been a fighter for freedom both in and out of uniform,” Palin continued. “Iowa – come together and send this Midwest Mama Grizzly roaring to Washington on her Harley so she can join with the good guys to get our country back on track!”
Referring to Ernst’s pork-cutting/castration ad that has cut through the filter to even make it on the Tonight Show, Palin simply said: “Any question about the type of Senator Joni will be? Check out her first ad – she makes it pretty clear.”
“I’m Joni Ernst. I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm. So when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork,” Ernst said in the ad.
Palin’s endorsement also comes a day after the GOP opposition research group America Rising released a video of Rep. Mark Braley (D-IA), who will be the Democrat trying to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), denigrating Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) at a fundraiser with trial lawyers from Texas as just a “farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.” Braley, who has a slight lead over all his potential GOP opponents, apologized for those remarks, but the damage may have been done, especially because Braley’s remarks came off as elitist and criticized a respected Iowa Senator in a populist state notorious for its dislike of such attacks (see: Howard Dean v. Dick Gephardt in the 2004 Iowa caucuses).
Jacobs, who has donated to the late Arlen Specter after he switched parties and to Jon Corzine while expressing support for cap and trade while he was at Reliant and Common Core, leads the field of candidates and is preferred by the moneyed Washington establishment. Ernst has the backing of Iowa’s Lieutenant Gov. Kim Reynolds and the behind-the-scenes support of Gov. Terry Branstad, as Breitbart News has reported. She also received Mitt Romney’s endorsement, as she tries to be a firm bridge between the conservative grassroots and the establishment. Former talk radio host Sam Clovis and former U.S. attorney Matt Whitaker are also in the running. No candidate has come close to surpassing the 35% threshold in polling, which a candidate will have to do in the June 3 primary to avoid a nominating convention.
Palin, who urged supporters to learn more about Ernst at www.joniforiowa.com, mentioned that Ernst could “see through the bull” in Washington like Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), and Ernst will hope Palin’s endorsement can help her clear the field like it helped Fischer in 2012. As Breitbart News reported, Palin proved how valuable her endorsement is in Nebraska when she endorsed Fischer during the 2012 election cycle:
The Republican establishment spent millions backing Jon Bruning, while Washington’s conservative establishment, including Freedom Works, spent millions backing Don Stenberg. But after Palin wrote a 135-word Facebook post to endorse Deb Fischer, the then-unknown candidate suddenly had “momentum, buzz, and name identification” and rocketed to the top of the polls en route to wins in the primary and general election.
Palin has endorsed Ben Sasse, Chris McDaniel, and T.W. Shannon for Senate this cycle in Nebraska, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, respectively. Shannon told Breitbart News that Palin’s endorsement brings “more than money can buy,” and his poll numbers prove it. Shannon was trailing his opponent by 35 points and now is within single digits in a poll taken four days after Palin’s endorsement.