Sarah Palin is throwing her support to Newt Gingrich — at least in South Carolina. Although the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate didn't officially endorse Gingrich, she told Fox News' Sean Hannity that she'd cast her ballot for him in Saturday's primary if she were a South Carolina voter to stop Mitt Romney from nabbing the nomination. (More good news for Newt: Rick Perry, expected to drop out of the presidential race Thursday, is rumored to be readying a Gingrich endorsement of his own.) For his part, Gingrich said this week that he'd offer Palin a high-ranking spot in his administration should he be elected president. Will Palin's backing help Gingrich catch up with frontrunner Romney?
It already has: Last week, Gingrich was trailing Romney by double digits in South Carolina, says Steve Flesher at Conservatives4Palin, but now, just two days ahead of the primary, he has closed the gap, even taking a narrow lead in one poll. One reason for the surge was his strong debate performance on Monday. Another reason: Sarah Palin "gets results."
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Gingrich needs more than this: Gingrich is obviously thrilled to have Palin's help, says Maggie Haberman at Politico, but her half-endorsement doesn't change reality. Romney still leads in most polls, "and he has organizational and financial advantages." And, even with Perry opting out, Gingrich "still is facing a split conservative field...." Palin's kind words will probably just get him "another look from South Carolina voters."
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Palin will deserve credit if Gingrich wins: If Gingrich upsets Romney in South Carolina, Palin will "get some credit," says Suzi Parker at The Washington Post. The supporters of the original Tea Party darling "went into overdrive" as she and Gingrich made their mutual respect clear. Her backing counts in the state — Gov. Nikki Haley was "tanking" in 2010, then "skyrocketed" to victory after Palin endorsed her. And whatever happens in South Carolina, the GOP will "need [Palin] to activate her base" to beat President Obama in November.
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