Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said Tuesday: “I’m proud to endorse Donald J. Trump for president.”
The announcement comes after two days of speculation that the 2008 Republican presidential nominee would back the New York businessman. It’s likely the biggest endorsement Trump has won at this point.
The buzz intensified when it was revealed that a Canadair Challenger twin-jet departed Anchorage for the Des Moines International Airport on Monday.
Palin is expected to appear at a rally with Trump at Iowa State University in Ames on Tuesday evening.
“I am greatly honored to receive Sarah’s endorsement,” Trump said in a statement. “She is a friend, and a high-quality person whom I have great respect for. I am proud to have her support.”
The endorsement is a disappointment for Texas Sen. [crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore], who is battling for the top spot in Iowa with Trump. Prior to Tuesday, Palin had spoken positively of both candidates.
But on Tuesday, the endorsement led to drama between Palin and Cruz. After it became clear Palin might endorse Trump, Cruz communications director Rick Tyler said on CNN he thought “it would be a blow to Sarah Palin, because…she would be endorsing someone who’s held progressive views all their life.”
Palin’s daughter, Bristol, took Tyler’s comment as a slight against her mother, penning a blog post saying: “After hearing what Cruz is now saying about my mom, in a negative knee-jerk reaction, makes me hope my mom does endorse Trump. Cruz’s flip-flop, turning against my mom who’s done nothing but support and help him when others sure didn’t, shows he’s a typical politician. How rude to that he’s setting up a false narrative about her!”
Prior to her endorsement, Palin tweeted her daughter’s critical post about Cruz.
For his part, Cruz attempted to smooth things over with the former governor. “I love @SarahPalinUSA,” Cruz wrote. “Without her support, I wouldn’t be in the Senate. Regardless of what she does in 2016, I will always be a big fan.”
I love @SarahPalinUSA Without her support, I wouldn't be in the Senate. Regardless of what she does in 2016, I will always be a big fan.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) January 19, 2016