Prior to the South Carolina primary, former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, in an appearance on Sean Hannity’s television show, urged South Carolinians to vote for Newt Gingrich.
Palin said that she wanted the vetting process to continue, as the current occupant of the Oval Office had not been thoroughly vetted before the election in 2008.
Did Palin’s ‘endorsement’ help put Gingrich over the top?
No doubt, outstanding debate performances coupled with Gingrich’s blistering of the media and Mitt Romney’s collapse due to missteps regarding the release of his taxes influenced the results to a great degree.
But one has to wonder whether Palin is playing the role of kingmaker in this election. She certainly still maintains a great deal of political capital.
It appears evident that she is not a Romney supporter. She chided him for withholding the release of his taxes. She has challenged his job creation record. And she said that scrutiny of his tenure at Bain Capital is fair game because Barack Obama will certainly bring it up should Romney become the nominee.
At the same time, Palin said that last week’s ABC News interview with Gingrich’s ex-wife Marianne would actually serve to help him.
In South Carolina, that was apparently the case. Gingrich won big among women, evangelical Christians, independents and democrats. These groups were expected to run from him like the plague (especially women, in light of what was supposed to be a very damaging interview with Marianne.)
Could Palin be a factor in Florida and beyond?
Polls show Gingrich leading Romney in Florida heading into that state’s primary on January 31st.
To be sure, it won’t be a cakewalk for Gingrich. Romney has a huge machine set up there.
However, if Romney continues to collapse nationally as Gallup trends show him doing, and Gingrich continues to give stellar performances in the debates, the entire dynamic of the race could change.
And should Sarah Palin continue to talk up Gingrich, the establishment GOP’s desire to hand Romney the nomination on a silver platter may run into a serious roadblock.
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