In a surprise move just days before Iowa Republicans go to the poll to nominate a gubernatorial candidate, Sarah Palin decided to weigh in and endorsed former Governor Terry Branstad yesterday.
Her endorsement caught many off guard, including Branstad himself. Branstad was at a campaign event in Jefferson when news of her endorsement broke. TheIowaRepublican.com caught Branstad’s reaction to the news as his communications director, Tim Albrecht, informed him of the endorsement.
The news angered supporters of Bob Vander Plaats campaign. A number of them expressed their dissatisfaction by calling her a sellout. Vander Plaats’ campaign manager, Eric Woolson told the Des Moines Register, “I think that she’s seriously damaged her 2012 presidential prospects. This says to me she’s either not running for president or she doesn’t understand Iowa very well, because she has just alienated herself from her natural base. If you look at her Facebook page, all of the comments are saying ‘Terry Branstad? Really?’”
Woolson and other Vander Plaats supporters are upset with Palin because she didn’t endorse who they believe is the most conservative candidate in the race. All three Republican candidates running for governor are pro-life, and each of them advocates for the people of Iowa to have an opportunity to vote on whether or not gay marriages should be legal.
The real difference between the candidates lies in whether or not you support Vander Plaats’ executive order that purports to place a stay of gay marriages in the state. This is a position that some, including TheIowaRepublican.com, have claimed has no basis in the state constitution and would drastically expand the powers of the executive branch.
The Palin endorsement of Branstad came just hours after Dr. James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, personally endorsed Bob Vander Plaats. One of Vander Plaats’ chief surrogates, WHO Radio personality Steve Deace, has stated publically that he believes both Dobson and Pailn are political sellouts.
In March of 2010, Deace wrote a scathing rebuke of Dobson. He said, “[Dobson] supported and urged Christians to support several politicians who would in fact kill babies. Candidates like George W. Bush and John McCain, for instance.“
Deace has already bashed Palin’s endorsement of Branstad. On his Facebook page, Deace writes, “…lol…at first watching Sarah Palin attempt to clumsily parlay her celebrity status into the partisan political game was painful, but now it’s downright humorous.”
Deace has yet to share his thoughts on Dr. Dobson.
On the political front, we don’t really know what to think of Palin’s endorsement of Branstad. Is she trying to back the candidate who many believe will be the winner next Tuesday in advance of a 2012 presidential run, or does she simply think the Branstad is the best man for the job?
Since the 2008 presidential campaign, Palin has treated Iowa with kid gloves. She barely set foot in the state last fall when she did a book signing in Sioux City. She turned down an invitation from the Iowa Family Policy Center last October to headline their annual banquet, which ironically would have been held on the same night that Vice President Biden was to be in town.
If Branstad wins the primary and is successful in the November election, it’s doubtful this endorsement will damage her in any way, shape, or form. However, if Vander Plaats pulls off an upset next Tuesday, a potential caucus campaign would become exponentially more difficult.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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